Doug Bankson ran a disciplined, high-energy campaign and was able to defeat incumbent Commissioner Sam Ruth in the March 15th General Election. However his 3,875 vote total fell short of a majority, and now he must defeat Ruth again in a runoff election today. Can Bankson build off his momentum in that March 15th contest and come out on top again?
Candidate Feature - Doug Bankson, challenger for Seat #3
Doug Bankson is a busy man. He is the Lead Pastor at Victory Church World Outreach; he is a Board Member for The Apopka Chamber of Commerce and The John Land Trust. He is a member of The South Apopka Ministerial Alliance, The Apopka Christian Ministerial Alliance, and a Chaplain for The Apopka Police Department.
Oh, and he’s running for Seat #3 of the City Commission against incumbent Commissioner Sam Ruth.
This may seem like an overwhelming amount of responsibility, but for Bankson it’s answering the call of Apopka.
“I feel the challenge to reach out in a new way in our community and serve in a new capacity,” he said. “I love our city and want to preserve its grace while encouraging its growth. Having led our church from a handful to hundreds, and establishing a ministry that employs over 35 people while balancing a budget and sustaining growth, I believe I am qualified to be an advocate for Apopka. I know why I’m in it and I think the time is right.”
Bankson brings a combination of skills to his campaign and potentially to the City Commission. He is plain spoken, but able to talk at length on topics. He is polished, but authentic. He is on-message and disciplined, but warm. He is conservative in his approach to politics, and guided by the Constitution in his approach to government, even as it applies to Apopka.
“Government has a very specific and defined role,” he said. “Safety, infrastructure, and what benefits everyone equally. Beyond that it gets to quality of life. For that we have to go to our boss and ask do you want us to spend money on that?”
And in Bankson’s opinion, the people of Apopka are the boss.
Bankson uses the Visioning Apopka meeting as an example of what the government should and should not do.
“I feel the challenge to reach out in a new way in our community and serve in a new capacity,” he said. “I love our city and want to preserve its grace while encouraging its growth. I believe I am qualified to be an advocate for Apopka. I know why I’m in it and I think the time is right.”[/caption]
"There are a lot of things being talked about in the visioning process, and that’s absolutely necessary. We have to have a clear vision. And getting that vision from the people. That’s a good process. They’re our employer. My only concern in the visioning process is that it’s creating in people’s minds an expectation we’re going to have this and we’re going to have that and my question is ‘how are we going to pay for it?’ Not that we shouldn’t have all of those things."
His position on the City Center is one of pragmatic patience, despite the pressure the City Council might feel.
“We can’t go back in history and un-buy the property. And sadly it was bought at the height of the market. Now the market is what it is. So we are where we are. However I am concerned we might rush into a deal that may create other problems. There’s a certain pressure on the City Council – particularly on the mayor. He ran on bringing these things here. And he is working hard to make this happen. So there is a pressure on him.”
Bankson has maintained he wants to run a positive campaign, free of personal attacks. He wants to “run in his own lane” as he calls it. He sees himself as part of the solution to the division taking shape in Apopka over the last two years.
“People have their dukes up. And I mean all throughout a range of society whether it’s the moral issues or the fiscal issues. We need to approach it in the right manner. The right tone. I’m concerned right now for Apopka. We’re going through a transition, and we’ll get through it, but there’s a lot of nastiness. There’s distrust. I see what’s going on right now and I think I can be a part of the solution. You have to give people the room to vent a little bit. But we need to do it in a proper decorum on the City level.”
Even when describing one of his opponents, Commissioner Sam Ruth, he looks for common ground rather than contrast.
"There are a lot of things being talked about in the visioning process, and that’s absolutely necessary. We have to have a clear vision. And getting that vision from the people. That’s a good process. They’re our employer."[/caption]
“We both come from a similar philosophy in certain things. We’re not extremely different in philosophical ways. So at that point it’s the experience I bring to the table. I’m a unifying factor. We’re all on the same team going out for the same position. And the people are the coach making that decision. We are all on the same team, but I think I have something to bring to the table that will serve the city well.”
And while Bankson draws similarities with Ruth, he has concerns with the language coming out of the City Council in regards to taxes, spending and reserves.
“I think the goal is to keep taxes relatively low, but I think our reserves, our assets and our low tax rate are being looked at in a way to get a lot of things that they want. But for me I would have to know the people are telling me ‘yes raise my taxes because I want these things’ before I did that. Secondly let’s work with the private sector to get these things.”
His opinion on hiring an economic development director are also at odds with the current administration. He prefers to draw from local resources and private business.
“I would’ve put the brakes on it a little bit. I think we’re missing an opportunity to work with the Chamber of Commerce. I’ve seen the Chamber move forward and endeavor to lead in the economic development of Apopka. Let’s work within the community and not put on another salary if we don’t have to.”