FANWOOD, NJ – If someone offered you a position that has a significant amount of responsibility and very little pay, would you take it?
If you are newly sworn-in Fanwood Councilman Jeff Banks, the answer is yes.
“One day in December, I ran into (Councilman) Tom Kranz at breakfast. He told me that a seat had opened up on the Fanwood Council and asked if I would be interested in being considered,” Banks said. “I said ‘yes’.”
His name was submitted to the Fanwood Democratic Committee for consideration, and the Council voted on it.
Banks is taking over the unexpired term of Russ Huegel, who took the position of Borough Attorney but had to give up his seat on the Council, as is legally required.
One concern for anyone who considers community involvement is the significant time commitment. There are two meetings, which typically last about an hour, each month in the Borough of Fanwood. Additionally, each Council member is a liaison to various committees, such as recreation and seniors.
“It’s not every night, and I’m used to multi-tasking and being on a variety of committees,” Banks explained, who had contemplated further community involvement. “I always thought I should be doing more, I just didn’t know what capacity. This is the next evolutionary step for me.”
“I've watched Jeff make a difference in our community by working tirelessly with his family to increase awareness and education on autism,” said Mayor Colleen Mahr. “He has taken that commitment of community to another level by serving as a Councilman, and I'm very excited for what the future will hold with him up on the dais. What motivates people to run for office is the belief that we can make a difference.”
Banks, the father of two children, Ethan and Mallory, is known throughout Fanwood for being a driving force behind the annual Rockin’ for Autism event in Fanwood for the past several years. The music and food festival has raised tens of thousands of dollars for Autism New Jersey since its inception.
Banks's experience as a project manager and industrial designer for Parker 3D in Scotch Plains has been a valuable asset to the Rockin’ for Autism fundraiser. In addition, he also has a background in designing commercial installations for retail outlets. He believes that his management, design and communication skills will translate well for his new role as a Councilman.
“For work, I have to pull permits, deal with zoning officials, DPW, and other town officials,” explained Banks, a 15-year resident of Fanwood who says that he will do a lot of listening to find out how things run on the Council.
In addition, Banks is on the Board of Autism New Jersey and served on the building committee for Temple Sholom when the temple moved from its former home at Fanwood Presbyterian Church to its new location on Lake Ave.
Banks, who grew up in Marlboro, NJ, says his wife, Gina, and his children are “all in” for his joining the Council. “It’s kind of exciting.”