Gail Ash Is More Than A Mayor, She Is The First Woman Mayor Of Clermont!
Mayor Gail Ash is probably the busiest political figure in Clermont. She is seen at most city events, new business openings, as well as her monthly Coffee with the Mayor.
The retired teacher of 32 years hasn’t lost her feisty disposition or, at times, abrasive leadership style, but there is no doubt, she cares about her community.
Ash was born in New York City and earned both her bachelor of arts degree and master’s in education from Hunter College in Manhattan. She taught 1st-4thgrade elementary school students in the Hicksville School District on Long Island until she retired in 1996.
I was able to catch up with the Mayor and ask her to tell the readers a little about herself.
TABLET: What made you decide to move to Clermont?
Gail: When I retired in 1996, I couldn’t afford to live on Long Island. In 1998, I got on I-95 and headed south. I stopped wherever I saw signs for new developments. I wanted a new “senior” development, near a large city, with low taxes & cost. I stopped multiple times, to no avail. I ended up in Leesburg, where relatives lived. At that point, I have given up hope and was heading back north, planning on trying another time. Then, I saw a billboard for Kings Ridge. I figured, “What’s another 22 miles?” Kings Ridge turned out to be exactly what I was looking for, plus it was located in the middle of the state and the homes were concrete construction, both factors lowering the chances of damage from hurricanes.
TABLET: It didn’t take you long before you entered the Clermont political arena? Why?
Gail: Once I moved to Clermont, I wanted to find out more about the city that was so very different from New York and Long Island. I started attending council meetings. I didn’t agree with some decisions that were being made so rather than just gripe, I decided to run for a seat on the council and thereby impact decisions. I was elected in 2002 and 2004.
TABLET: You resigned from the council in 2005, to return home to care for aging family members. After three years, you returned to live at Heritage Hills and, once again, got involved … first serving on the Planning and Zoning Commission and then becoming the first woman mayor of Clermont.
Becoming the first woman mayor inspired many young women. That is, indeed, a shining accomplishment. What other projects are you most proud of?
Gail: The projects I’m most proud of are getting fireworks in Clermont at the July 4th celebrations and the revitalization of the downtown district, with the Victory Pointe project and other improvements that will be coming in the next few years included in the Master Plan.
I am also a member in the MPO, Orlando-Central Fla. Leadership Congress, Homeless and Hurricane Task Forces, Lake Apopka Gas Board and the Mayors/Managers Coalition.
TABLET: There must have been someone or something who sparked your interest in public service.
Gail: At the end of my first year of teaching, the senior teacher at my grade level told me that I was going to be my school’s union representative the next year. That was the start of my 31 years of union activities. I served as a representative, officer, and negotiator.
TABLET: Do you have any future goals?
Gail: I am, once again, running for Mayor and if re-elected, I want to see the implementation and completion of the city’s Master Plan and its future impact on the lakefront/downtown and thereby the city, as a whole.
TABLET: It’s obvious that Clermont keeps you busy but do you have any hobbies or interests besides your duties as Mayor?
Gail: I enjoy playing bridge and doing needlepoint.
TABLET: Everyone has a “superhero”; a larger than life inspiring character. Who is your favorite superhero?
Gail: My favorite “superhero” is Amelia Earhart. Her love of flying pushed her into a career/life dominated by men. She made inroads for women in aviation and elsewhere. She was a “real life superhero!”
Get to know the candidates and vote. The primary election will be held on August 28 and the general election on November 6.