BARRHEAD- When Ty Assaf first decided to run for the Town of Barrhead council, he did it because he did not want residents to have to deal with issues or problems by themselves.
And that is still one of the main reasons he is seeking re-election in Oct. 18's municipal election.
If successful, it will be his fourth straight term.
Assaf, an Edmonton native, first came to Barrhead in 1998.
"I was looking to make a change and get out of the hustle and bustle of city life," he said.
After graduating high school, Assaf received his diploma in business finance from NAIT.
Unfortunately, when he graduated, jobs in the financial sector were few and far between.
"It was the time when banks were going through a lot of mergers," he said.
Instead, he ended up going into retail, managing several men's high fashion stores.
Assaf said the time commitment of managing the stores was impacting his family. At about the same time, Assaf saw an ad about a Barrhead pizzeria up for sale.
"I could see the potential in the place, so I took it," he said. "Before that, I had never even heard of Barrhead."
Shortly after taking over the business, Assaf joined the Chamber of Commerce, eventually becoming part of its executive, including serving two years as president.
"I wasn't too happy with some of the things that were happening with the town. There was something of an old boys club on the council, so I decided it was time for a change," he said.
Assaf said, at the time, he was the type of individual that relied on himself to solve any problems or issues he encountered.
"After going through and finding solutions, I decided I wanted to be the voice of those who need help, so they don't have to struggle on their own ... so I decided to throw my hat into the ring."
His first two attempts on joining the council failed, but on his third try in 2010, he was successful.
Highlights of council
Assaf said the biggest highlight of serving on council for the last 11 years is the quality of people he has worked with, everyone from councillors to public works and parks and recreation staff.
He said working with his fellow councillors has been especially rewarding.
"On all three councils, everyone has been so supporting and professional. We all understand and have our opinions on different issues," he said, noting he especially can be passionate when debating an issue and does not hold back. "But once the vote is called and a decision made, it is respected."
He used the example when his Aug. 10 motion to review the Recreation Facility Rentals and Rates policy (Policy 72-02) was defeated.
"That is the system, no hard feelings," Assaf said. "We all understand that we are here for the betterment of the community."
Assaf said he is excited about what the next four years hold for Barrhead, adding he hopes to see the groundwork council has done come to fruition.
"I am excited about the all-wheel park getting developed very soon and hopefully the start of future development in our 11 and a half acres (Schneider Lands, a municipally-owned parcel on the west side of town)," he said. "I am also excited to be able to work with our municipal counterparts. We have a good relationship already, but I look forward to continuing to make it even stronger."
The biggest challenge of any council, Assaf said, is always funding, noting it will just continue to get more difficult due to provincial downloading.
He said in addition to the reduction in Municipal Infrastructure Initiative (MSI) grants, an increase in policing costs, he expects Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) will also see a decrease in their provincial grant and therefore the municipalities might be asked for a larger contribution.
"It's not something that is out of our hands, but we are in a good position to face those challenges and we have a good group, from council to administration, to come up with solutions.”
What Assaf brings to the table
As a former business owner, Assaf says he recognizes the pressures and challenges Barrhead's business community faces.
He added he also has a strong understanding of budgets, not only from his experience on council but as business manager of Stephani Motors, as well as an understanding of emergency logistics from his nine years serving with the Barrhead Regional Fire Services.
"I believe I have a skill set that is needed on council. I have always been a progressive thinker and I have a good understanding of IT and technology," Assaf said, adding he hopes Barrhead voters believe he brings enough to the table to allow him to remain on council for his fourth term.