One-on-One With Victor Ashe

Knoxville (WVLT) - Former Knoxville Mayor Victor Ashe continues his mission to serve as the U.S. Ambassador to Poland.

Can you believe, this summer he completed his third year in the post.

WVLT’s Alan Williams sat down with the ambassador about what he's learned, getting a presidential visit, his future, as well as his family.

Warsaw, Poland. A city of almost 2-million, the capital of the country, and home to U.S. Ambassador Victor Ashe.

But at least twice a year, the ambassador, wife Joan, son J. Victor and daughter Martha, make it back to their Knoxville home on Kingston Pike.

"It’s always interesting to see new things in town that weren't here a year ago, or and by being away for 5 months, then coming back it sort of sinks in you, a lot quicker in what's changed,” says Ambassador Ashe.

For a man who spent 16 years as mayor, what's changed is local government, the controversies and the issues.

“Well, in my current position, I’m somewhat, restricted in commentary on that and so I just haven't,” says Ashe. "When I become a former ambassador, and private citizen, ask me then.”

A diplomatic answer, the distinction between life as mayor and ambassador are quite similar, yet different.

“As a diplomat, it’s something of a change not a total change, doing a lot of public diplomacy as mayor you did that as well.” Ashe explains. “On the other hand, you don’t have to set the tax rate, or deal with zoning issues.”

This past July, the ambassador and Joan played host to President Bush.

"Actually it was the President's third visit as President to Poland, this was a very short visit, it was right after the G-8 meeting in Germany and he stopped in on his way to Rome."

From a family standpoint, Martha is now 14, J. Victor is 17 and stands almost 6’2”. Both attend an American school in Warsaw, and apparently far away from many problems facing students here.

"We really don’t have a drug issue,” says Joan Ashe. “I’m thinking it’s part of the culture, I guess."

Home life is not what you might expect.

"We live above the shops, so to speak. We're not in an office area,” Joan explains. “We're in a house and we do all the entertaining at the residence."

So safe in fact, Ambassador Ashe says he's one of just a few Americans that doesn't have to have security.

With a year and a half to go before he gives up his post, the obvious question is what's next?

“I really don't worry about the future,” the ambassador says. “I’ve got a job to do for another year and a half, there's a lot on my plate, a lot to do, I'm busy doing it."

Ambassador Ashe is set to speak Wednesday at a luncheon sponsored by the Howard Baker Center for Public Policy at Calhoun’s on the River. Tickets are 15 dollars.

Ambassador Ashe is scheduled to give up his post January 2009.


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