Gateway Sun

Yesterday we told you about Hampton Park resident Jim Brann, who is running for Seat 4 of Gateway’s Board of Supervisors.

The Supervisors’ job is to oversee the Gateway Services Community Development District, which is the entity in charge of the landscaping, parks, ponds and water/sewer services in Gateway.

The GSCDD board is comprised of five elected officials who each serve four year terms. In the 2016 selections, three seats on the board were contested (Seat 1, 2 and 3). In the upcoming 2018 elections, two seats on the board are up for grabs (Seat 4 and 5).

Today we’re here to talk about Supervisor Doug Banks, who has filed his candidacy paperwork to run for Seat 5, which he already occupies.

I can count on one hand (and probably one finger) the amount of times I’ve brought up Banks’ day job. As a rule, I try to keep that stuff out of the publication because being a Supervisor is a part time job, but it’s also a tough job that involves difficult choices, so I don’t want anything said here to affect anyone’s main income source or home life.

But Banks just filed to be elected to public office. So what he does for a living is fair game for this piece.

Banks, who is the only current Supervisor who has a full-time job, is the Director of Recruiting Operations for a little company named Gartner. Prior to joining Gartner early last year, Banks had a similar type job working for a Fortune 100 financial services organizaion.

Banks and his wife, Charli, have lived in Gateway for approximately 15 years. They have four children and reside in the Stoneybrook community. Prior to moving to Stoneybrook, the Banks family lived in Pinecrest, where Banks served on the community’s HOA board for 7 years.

Speaking of serving … Banks was the founder of the Gateway Gives charity, has volunteered as a coach in the Gateway youth leagues, and long before he even considered becoming a Supervisor he served on the GSCDD’s Water Advisory Committee. I believe Banks has served on other district committees as well, but the Water Advisory Committee was the only one we were able to find meeting minutes for.

Banks tenure on the Board of Supervisors began when he was hand-picked by the GSCDD board to replace an outgoing Supervisor named Rod Senior, who had quit the board in protest of .. well, no longer being able to do whatever he wanted.

Under Florida law, when a CDD board member resigns, the remaining Supervisors get to select their replacement. Banks was selected from a rather sizable field and sworn in on May 5, 2016.

One former GSCDD Operations Manager told the Gateway Sun that Banks was a “breath of fresh air” for the board and the community. Indeed, Banks has brought a totally different approach to the board than we have seen from any other Supervisor. Banks analyzes and sometimes articulates multiple sides to key issues before casting his votes, while the other Supervisors tend to only share the point of view that supports their vote with the public.

Banks has been a strong supporter of the youth sports leagues operating at the Sherman Soccer Complex, much to the chagrin of the district staff and some other board members who seem to feel the leagues are a burden to the community.

In terms of casting votes to support the Gateway Flag Football League and Gateway Soccer Association, Banks has voted each and every single time to support the kids who play in the leagues and the parents who go to the games to socialize and watch their children have fun. He is the only Supervisor with a perfect record in that regard.

Banks has only cast one vote with actual financial consequences that this publication did not agree with, and that was when he tried to find some middle ground with the Lake Bank Restoration Project.

Now keep in mind, Banks was one of the three votes that effectively killed the bloated project. So for that, he deserves a huge, huge thank you from all Gateway residents. But just prior to that main vote, two specific ponds were identified where the bids were lower than expected, and Banks cast his vote to fix those two ponds.

Essentially, Banks agreed to spend $1 while stopping the community from spending $20 in an attempt to make all sides happy. But, to us, spending even $0.01 was too much until receiving independent verification that the project was even necessary at all.

Aside from that, Banks has a very strong community-minded voting record as a Supervisor. As we just stated he voted to save the community tens of millions in questionable pond repair spending, but he’s also cast his votes and used his position to support the growth of GSCDD to serve Gateway’s ever-growing population.

And yes, that does mean increased spending, but I cannot stress strongly enough that the GSCDD let Gateway pass it by for 1-2 decades. To the credit of the entire board, not just Banks, the Supervisors have taken it upon themselves to get the district in the position it needs to be. But since Banks is a corporate executive familiar with modern day management and talent acquisition practices, the fact that Banks has lent his experience to the residents of Gateway has had an extremely positive effect on the community.

I spoke with Banks by phone a few weeks ago to check if he was going to run for the board, and he didn’t hesitate to say that he was. Speaking for myself, I honestly was not sure what he would do. Banks is an extremely busy person with his job and his kids’ sporting and other activities (I follow Banks on Facebook and basically I feel like a soccer parent by osmosis).

As of the time of publication, no one has filed to run against Banks for Seat 5. Of course, entering a competition in which the people of Gateway have to choose between Supervisor Banks … and you … would be difficult for “you” to win.

Banks would have the Stoneybrook vote in the bag, the presidents of both Gateway sports leagues I’m sure would issue positive statements about Banks, plenty of well known Gateway residents such as the Spickers would (I believe) openly support Banks, key businesses such as the Fort Myers Brewery would also (again I believe) be supportive of Banks. Hell, even if Pelican Preserve was running someone against him, Banks would probably take more than 25% of the Pelican vote if people got to know him.

Don’t get me wrong… what I need in my life is opportunities to generate content, and sometimes it’s slim pickins in Gateway. An election race in Seat 5 would be a proverbial buffet for the Sun all summer and fall. And you could obviously count on us to once again provide completely unbiased, straight-shooting election coverage.

But there just doesn’t seem to be a pressing need to unseat the incumbent.

Banks has already done enough good that whether he wins an election, or wins uncontested, the people of Gateway will have the benefit of Banks’ time and talents for another 4 years.

About Jeff Kuntz

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Editor of the Gateway Sun and owner of restaurant delivery service Florida Food Runner.

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