2020 40 Under 40 Joe Ashton

Joe Ashton Photo by Amber Shumake



Joe Ashton says he loves working in local government, be it as an elected or appointed official (he’s both, in an unusual situation) , and feels blessed for the opportunities he has to be able to do something he loves.

“Joe has worked in municipal government for over 15 years, beginning in geographic information systems, permitting, and planning and moving up to the chief executive position,” said nominator Kristina Ashton of the City of Fort Worth. (You might note the similarity in names.)

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“Joe has used his knowledge of state and local law and his relationships with local-, state-, and federal-level officials to find creative and effective solutions to blight, hardship, and business difficulties in the various Tarrant area cities in which he has worked,” she said.

Ashton lives in River Oaks and is currently running unopposed for mayor. He has a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Alabama and is a graduate of Castleberry High School in River Oaks. He’s a member of the Castleberry Church of Christ in River Oaks.

“Joe has completed comprehensive improvements in the cities where he has worked. In White Settlement he completed a re-zoning that brought the city in compliance with state law and local usage. In Forest Hill he worked with area business in a consistent and upright manner and used little known legal instruments to solve land use and ownership issues that allowed the city and business to move forward with development. In Rhome he partnered with UTA’s College of Architecture, Planning and Public Administration to create a Comprehensive Plan for the city that is consistent with its Water Master Plan and feeds a Zoning Plan which poises the city for explosive growth and development,” said Kristina Ashton.

Ashton has served on the Northwest Tarrant YMCA Board of Managers; the City of River Oaks City Council, Place 4; President; the River Oaks Crime Control and Prevention District Board of Directors; as former director and vice president of the River Oaks Economic Development Corporation; and as secretary of the Regional Coordination Committee for Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base.

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– Paul K. Harral

Where did your first paycheck come from?

Selling pretzels for my uncle at the Main Street Arts Festival

What movie, TV series, play or video game influenced you growing up?

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When Trumpets Fade, a fairly obscure WWII movie from the late 90s centered on the Battle of Hurtgen Forest

What other profession would you like to try?

I love sports even though I’m not any good at them. Naturally, like any passionate fan, I would love to try my hand at managing a team.

Tell us about an influential person in your life, how they influenced you and why he or she was important.

My grandmother, Alice Tenery. She was a concerned citizen who would attend River Oaks council meetings and got me involved in local government when I was about 17 years old. She passed away in 2011 and I was first elected a year later.

When did you know what you wanted to be when you grew up?

I knew I wanted to be involved in government in some way when I was 5 years old.

What is your favorite song?

Things To Do by Grady Spencer & The Work

Tell us about your photo shoot prop.

I’m bringing a map of The Republic of Texas and a framed image of my grandmother. The picture of my grandmother is one of her as a young girl. She grew up poor but resourceful. It motivates me and helps me remember her stories and her love. Also, I love history, particularly Texas history and its rich, unique stories. The map of Texas’ boundaries in the 1800s is a favorite of mine.