FANWOOD, NJ -- The last in our series of "Five Questions With... " election series shines the spotling on Fanwood Democratic candidate, Councilman Jeff Banks, who has served on the Council since Jan. 1, 2019.
Name: Jeffrey Banks
Current Occupation: Industrial Designer
Family: Wife Gina, son Ethan, daughter Mallory
# Years Living in Fanwood: 15
Why are you running for Council?
I feel strongly about giving back to this town that’s given me and my family so much. The people here are so friendly and giving, which they confirm every year as we conduct our Rockin’ for Autism fundraiser at LaGrande Park. We’ve seen many selfless individuals volunteer, donate and put themselves out there for the autism cause. I’ve also seen the incredible work done by the Fanwood DPW, Police Department, Health Department and the many volunteers who form the backbone of our town. I wanted to be a part of that on a year-round basis, so when the opportunity arose to become a Council member, I jumped at it.
Tell us about your career and how your work and life experience are beneficial in your role as a Councilperson.
I am an industrial designer, which means I design large venue displays and signage. I travel a lot, which is tiring so I always appreciate coming back home. I’ve been able to lend my artistic talent and experience to designing the iconic signs for some of our downtown businesses including Rocko’s, the Fanwood Grille, and Nick’s Pizza. I was on the construction committee for the new Temple Sholom synagogue on Lake Avenue. Given the many ways I’ve been active in our community, I know a lot of people and hear a lot of their concerns, and they know they can reach out to me any time. As a 15-year resident and homeowner, I share the challenges of our taxpayers and look for the same relief from the high cost of living in New Jersey that they do.
What are the issues that you think are most important in Fanwood?
It’s almost a cliché to talk about our high taxes, but that’s still the single biggest complaint people have about living here. In my first nine months on the Council, I’ve gotten quite an education on taxation and have seen how hard the Mayor and Council work to keep the municipal portion of our property tax bill, which amounts to only 20% of the total, from going up. Our local taxes went down this year and stayed flat last year, but it was tough to do that while maintaining the services we’re all used to.
I’ve also heard concerns about what some people call the “overdevelopment” of our town. I’m paying close attention to all the new developments coming our way, as are the Mayor and the rest of the Council. But I can tell you that if the past 15 years are any indication, Fanwood’s development has not crossed a red line and will not cross a red line any time soon. We are committed to smart growth for our town, not the kind of unfettered, out-of-control development that would turn Fanwood into a sprawling suburban mess.
What should people know about you that they might not know already?
My wife, Gina, and I have two wonderful children, Mallory and Ethan. Ethan has autism and has been the focus of many of our activities over the last few years. It was Mallory who first came up with the idea for a fundraiser to raise both money and awareness for autism. It was her energy that propelled us to what’s become one of Fanwood’s signature events, the Rockin’ for Autism fair that I mentioned earlier. Now, she’s preparing to go to college. Ethan is thriving. Gina is busy tutoring, and I’m working for Parker 3D and have my own graphic design business.
What else would you like to say?
Mayor Mahr and the rest of our team are asking for your vote because we are your neighbors and homeowners who care about Fanwood. Serving on the Council for a dollar a year with no benefits frees us to do it for the right reasons. We want to be on your governing body. I hope you’ll vote for me and my colleagues Francine Glaser, Kathy Mitchell and Mayor Colleen Mahr on Tuesday, November 5th.
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