A retired businessman with time on his hands, Ed Asbridge decided to start spending Friday mornings drinking coffee with neighbors and talking politics.
What started as a social gathering grew into an organized group, South Hall Republican Club in 2011, with Asbridge as the founding president.
“It grew and grew, and that was really what got me very interested in politics and government in general,” including local issues, Asbridge said.
And that led eventually to him seeking and winning Flowery Branch City Council’s Post 2 seat in a special election Tuesday, June 18. He is scheduled to be sworn in Thursday, June 27.
“I’m anxious to get to work,” said Asbridge, speaking at a victory celebration at Maynard’s At The Corner restaurant in Braselton.
Asbridge claims a seat that was vacated in December 2019 by Mary Jones, who died May 2.
He will serve out Jones’ term, which ends Dec. 31.
He spent an hour in his home in Sterling on the Lake last week talking a little about his history and what lies ahead.
Retired from J.C. Penney management, the 76-year-old Louisville, Ky., native talked — as he did during the campaign — about delaying an earlier desire to run for office because of his late wife’s illness. His wife of 56 years died in December after a battle with Alzheimer’s disease.
Asbridge, who moved to Sterling in 2007 to be closer to his daughter and her family, had said that when the time came to reconsider a bid, “I prayed a lot … and (decided) I need to (run).”
“I’m in good health, and I think I’ve got a lot to contribute. I’m retired … and can spend full time on it, and I plan to,” he said.
Asbridge, faithful to his church, Sugar Hill United Methodist Church, said that one of the things he hopes to do as a new councilman is “be the person who probably communicates more than anyone else, and I have the time to do it.”
“I don’t know if it’s going to be Facebook or a blog, but it’s going to be something that people can participate in and that I can at least pass on the information,” he said.
Asbridge also repeated a familiar refrain during his campaign — helping to unite downtown area businesses.
“I would like to see a merchants association or a business alliance, not just (of businesses) on Main Street but also on Atlanta Highway,” he said. “I could consult with them and stay with them because of my (retail) experience.”
Such a relationship not only could aid existing merchants but possibly help to lure other merchants to the area.
Otherwise, Asbridge would like to see more commercial development in the South Hall city.
“Our tax revenues are upside down,” he said . “That (residential-to-commercial) ratio needs to get more even. We have (nearly 1,000) homes approved in the city already. That certainly is going to be more conducive to retail.”
Qualifying is set Aug. 19-21 for the seat’s four-year term beginning Jan. 1, with that election taking place Nov. 5. Asbridge said he plans to seek the four-year term.