Flowery Branch’s new mayor is hardly a stranger to local issues.
Ed Asbridge, set to preside over his first Flowery Branch City Council meeting on Thursday, Jan. 6, went to his first council meeting in 2008, one year after he arrived in the South Hall city, and has been involved ever since.
He actively attended and occasionally spoke during public comment time at meetings over the years, before making a successful bid for council in 2019. When he resigned from the council in 2021 to run for mayor, he continued to faithfully attend meetings, sitting in the front row.
Asbridge watched as the council wrestled with one development issue over another, sometimes with emotional responses from the audience.
Reflecting on what could be the city’s most pressing issue, he said in a December interview at City Hall, “You need the growth, we can use the growth, but it needs to be managed.”
Asbridge takes over for Mike Miller, who announced in April 2021 he would not seek re-election to the post he held since January 2011.
He is looking forward to the new role.
“What I like about (local government) is we’ve got five people — all of them are trying to look out for Flowery Branch,” Asbridge said. “I like that. I like the atmosphere.”
And the city’s government is still small enough “where you know all the department heads.”
By comparison, at the national level, “nobody gets along anymore, nobody compromises, and that’s both sides,” said Asbridge, the founding president of the South Hall Republican Club until he left the post in 2018.
Looking ahead to his four-year term, the retired businessman said he believes Flowery Branch needs to do a “full-court press on the water and sewer plant” improvements.
“The plans are in place, we’ve already got the money, the plant will double our capacity,” Asbridge said.
“We need to keep an eye on the growth and make sure we are doing the right thing,” he said.
Also, downtown improvements, including two new parks and construction of a farmers market, are in the works and need to be pushed along.
“Downtown is just going to be beautiful,” Asbridge said, adding that some areas need to be cleaned up through code enforcement and other means.
“Right now, we’re spending all our time on building new things and there’s other things that need to be done.”
One challenge for the city is all the new faces in government. Besides himself in a new role, the City Council has two new members, Oliver McClellan and Will McDaniel, and a new city manager, Tonya Parrish. Also, the council is set to fill Asbridge’s vacant seat on March 15.
“It’s going to be challenging,” but the opportunity offers fresh perspectives on the issues, Asbridge said. “I think it’ll work out.”
Miller said he believes the town is in good hands going forward.
“Ed has been an active citizen through the years and engaged in the budget before serving on City Council,” he said. “Combining that knowledge with his service on City Council sets him up well for a successful term as mayor.”
Councilman Joe Anglin talked about Asbridge’s active participation as a resident for more than a decade.
“Ed has always been very involved with the City,” he said. “Ed is a hard worker and has an extensive amount of leadership experience. I have all the confidence that Ed will serve the citizens of Flowery Branch well and work in concert with the council to keep the city moving forward.”