Ashby hopes to get more involved through comissioners
— Robert Ashby hopes to move from a member of the town planning commission to a place on the board of town commissioners in the May 10 election.
Ashby, 48, said he finds town government exciting and educational.
“It’s fun and you learn a lot about the town and different people and what’s going on,” the Scranton, Pa. native said.
Ashby is one of three names in the race for commissioner, which also includes involved citizen Anthony “Tony” Gerst and incumbent Ray Ryan III. Also in the upcoming election, Mayor Jim Eberhardt
is running unopposed for a seventh term.
Ashby attended his first town meeting not long after purchasing his Aiken Avenue home three years ago.
“I moved to this town because I like this town,” he said. “I don’t see negatives. I see positives.”
At his second town meeting, he said he heard about the opening on planning and zoning. Not long afterward, he was appointed to that board. It’s given him his platform.
“We need to build that bridge over I-95 on Route 222,” he said.
The traffic bottleneck has reportedly stalled future development of the property surrounding Hollywood Casino. Like many others, Ashby points out that the state widened a similar bridge off the interstate in Aberdeen without demanding cost shares.
“How much did Ripken Stadium donate to build at Route 22? That bridge is 53 years old,” Ashby said. He said it is unfair that Perryville has to chip in to end the bottleneck on the state road.
He also wants the town’s troublesome water distribution system with its many water main breaks addressed. Ashby also wants to see that Icehouse Park gets some amenities.
“Right now, it’s wide open,” he said of the waterfront property. “We can’t build anything on it, but we could put picnic tables there.”
Getting power to the community park is another challenge he would take, noting that several attempts already made by town officials have not been successful.
“Failure is not failure. You just found a way that doesn’t work,” he said.
He describes the town as “a diamond,” adding “but even your diamond needs to be polished.”
“This is small-town America,” he said. “I cut my grass on Sundays and I love doing it. But it takes me all day because people stop by and talk to me, or toot the horn and wave. The people in this town are great.”
If elected, Ashby said it matters not which appointment the mayor gives him, but added he would like to be the board’s liaison to the planning commission. He also realizes that being a commissioner is different than his appointed role.
He has a vision for Perryville that includes businesses closer to the waterfront. While the town has a grant-funded pier at Rodgers Tavern, Ashby said it’s underutilized and with good reason.
“There’s nothing here for them to walk to,” he said.
He hopes to hear from residents with ideas of how to develop a vibrant main street. He’s a “sit and listen” type, he said.
“I’m only one guy and I’m going to need ideas,” he said.