Apopka City Commissioner Doug Bankson surprised the City Council in March when he announced his intention to run in the Florida House District 39 election and vacate Seat #3. Now just four days from the general election on Tuesday, Bankson said goodbye to the Council he served on for six years.
"You can lead or be liked, but you can't always do both," Bankson told the Council, the audience at the meeting, and his friends and family in attendance. " Sometimes people don't like the decisions you make, and there's no way to make a decision that everyone agrees on. And that's a challenge. So for me, it's not about serving to please the people but serving to serve the people."
Apopka Mayor Bryan Nelson and the commissioners all praised Bankson for his service to the community while on Council.
"Mr. Bankson, you blew all us all away," Nelson said. "And the Bankson family, from top to bottom, are the most first class family I have probably ever met. I'll remember the character, integrity and tenacity that he brings to this Council. I mean, he's like a dog on a bone if he thinks it's the right thing... and that's what you want. You want somebody to fight for those ideas and those positions that he thinks are right. But you always know that when he comes to a decision, it's based on the facts and how he sees that issue and not about the political winds. I've been working on a [reserve] surplus... and we were not going to let you leave here without it."
I've enjoyed working beside you," said Commissioner Diane Velazquez. "And I know that we sometimes didn't agree on the reserves. But that has been, you know, something that you have carried for all these years. I have a lot of respect for you, and I'm gonna miss you. I look forward to seeing you in Tallahassee, and that we will be working together. But I want to say thank you. You have been an advocate for our city, you have been an advocate up here. And most importantly, you have been a gentleman. I want to thank you over the years that I've sat here with you and learned a lot with you."
Commissioner Alexander H. Smith was not ready goodbye to Bankson.
"Well, let me start by saying I'm not going to say farewell," Smith said. "I hope that our friendship and relationship are going to continue, and I just want you to know that I've enjoyed serving with you and the relationship that we've established as a part of this Council. I look forward to that continued relationship in whatever your next endeavor might be."
Commissioner Nick Nesta was thankful that Bankson would now be available for non-Sunshine Law meetings.
"I'm looking forward to you not serving in this capacity so that we can take a deeper dive in some conversations that we have been voting on... things that affect the citizens... so thank I look forward to having a great contact up in Tallahassee."
Commissioner-Elect Kyle Becker, who will replace Bankson in Seat #3, also praised Bankson's time on the Council.
"I have a tremendous amount of respect for what you've done, and how you've composed yourself," Becker said. "There have been times we were on opposite sides of votes, yet, we can still sit here and smile at each other and have kind words outside of a formal meeting setting. To your point, if the people of District 39 elect you, there's going to be a tremendous amount of opportunity to work together still. I enjoyed our time together. I wish you great success, regardless of what happens in the next coming week or the next coming years. Know that I'm here for you. I enjoyed being a colleague of yours."
In his closing remarks, Bankson thanked the City Staff, Council, two mayors, and the Apopka residents.
"I do thank Mayor John Land, who I counted it a privilege to have him as a friend, and he encouraged me in many of these things. And, as he said, 'do the right thing'. We all see things sometimes differently. And we're all responsible in our character, to do that according to what we believe. And that's why I appreciate the differentiation. I appreciate that we have different perspectives up here [on Council], that we can work together and sometimes not agree on the vote. But it all comes from the right place. And that's what's important. That's what the people expect of us. I want to thank the staff of this city, who I think are absolutely amazing. Ed [City Administrator Edward Bass], you're one of the hardest working men that I know. You've worked through an incredible, difficult challenge this year. And I have high respect for you in that. And I know you're doing this for the right reasons, you've always been very responsive. When I have a citizen reach out to me, I call you, and it's jumped on as soon as possible. I want to say to all the staff, I think we have the most wonderful city, and I think we have a wonderful staff, and you work very hard to make sure that we crossed that finish line together. And I want to thank this board... this collegial board working together. I respect the opportunity to work together and the different strengths that each one brings to the table. Yes, we've had some challenging times. I'm not afraid of those challenges. And yes, sometimes that's necessary. We need to have a freedom of speech. And I love that in our land. But we can do that in a way that has nobility, civility, and humility. And I would encourage us all to keep that. And yet you know, when nothing's getting done, sometimes we just kind of got to amp it up just a little bit. I think that's going to move us as a city together. That's really been my heart. I love Apopka and I want to see us always pulling together in tragedies, in times of need, and in storms. It's amazing. You see neighbor helping neighbor, and that really goes to to the core of those things. Love God with all your heart. Love your neighbor as yourself I think if we follow that we will do well and follow that golden rule... teach others the way you like to be treated. And Mayor, I want to thank you. I respect you. I've seen you deal with personal challenges, and I know that your roots go deep in the city. I know that's where the decisions come from. And yes, we can all look and say 'well, we should have done this better. We should have done that better'. I can look back and say yes, I could see times where I could have done things better in all of those things. But I'll tell you what the bottom line is when you're doing it for the right reasons in the right heart, we always ended up in the right place. And so I really want to thank you. Thank you all and thank you, first of all to the citizens of Apopka. It's been the highest honor to serve in this city."
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