Every time Rolly Ashdown answers his phone, he feels like he’s keeping his campaign promise made seven years ago.
“I ran on available, accessible and accountable,” said Ashdown, who is winding down his second and — possibly temporary — final term as the Rocky View County Ward 4 councillor.
“That’s what I always ran on and that’s what I provided every day in doing that job.
“I’ve always followed exactly that so nobody can say I didn’t do what I said.”
It’s true. Ashdown did answer the phone. If he missed your call, he would get back to you. He was accessible, even if he was in a meeting. When there was a question or comment from one of the constituents, Ashdown responded, whether over the phone or, more recently, on social media.
While he’s not running in the next election to instead open a lounge in Langdon, Ashdown doesn’t rule out trying to get the job back at some point. While it can be exhausting being on call whenever anyone would need an answer about something, whether it’s traffic safety, beekeeping or land designation, he can see himself running again.
After two terms though, Ashdown feels it’s time for a break.
Asked what he’s most proud of during his seven-year stint on council, he can’t pinpoint one thing for the hamlet specifically, but he feels overall the county is in better shape than when he arrived on the scene, especially in terms of revenue.
“Over seven years, it seemed every week something good happened,” Ashdown said. “But in Rocky View County in general, we’re now in a position where we’re 50 per cent of the dollars coming in are from commercial and 50 per cent is from residential.
“It’s almost unheard of. We accomplished that and that’s what keeps our tax rates low. If Langdon was on its own, we would be nowhere near as successful as if we weren’t part of Rocky View County.
“Almost every municipality in Canada gets more from residential than commercial. We made good decisions in terms of development.”
During his tenure the Cross Iron Mills shopping mall and the Century Downs Racetrack and Casino both opened in Rocky View, although neither were in Ashdown’s area.
Overall, he’s pleased to leave Ward 4 in the hands of someone else, and there will be a campaign up to Election Day on Oct. 16 with candidates Al Schule and Curtis Deines putting their names in to run.
Since Ashdown took over, Landon has grown to more than 5,000 in population, which creates new challenges as it continues to build.
Ashdown hopes he set the ward in the right direction because he went into this job hoping to make position change.
“In general, people that get elected want to do well for their communities,” said Ashdown, who has heard his share of criticism over the years.
“Taking the stance that an elected person is a bad person has to be the silliest thing I’ve ever heard. They may not do what you like and you might not like their ideas, but the nature of politics is quite disturbing when you think about it. It’s like it’s open season on people because they are elected.
“I always appreciated people that supported me. I didn’t appreciate the ones who were angry but I understood where they were coming from. I would encourage them to try and work with people instead of having a frustrating life. That’s never fun.”