Banks commits to cooperation in Maggie

By Jessi Stone Assistant editor | Oct 23, 2013
Photo by: Jessi Stone Maggie Valley Board of Aldermen candidate Janet Banks speaks at a recent candidate forum.

Janet Banks is committed to cooperation and compromise if she is elected for the two-year unexpired term on the Maggie Valley Board of Aldermen.

She said her experience in the private sector has well prepared her for the position. She was an advanced practice nurse and nursing educator for many years in Texas and taught nursing students at the graduate level in the Texas state university system before moving to Maggie Valley seven years ago.

Banks also served 10 years on the National Nursing Executive and Foundation Boards where she was responsible for setting accountability and achievement standards.

“I’m used to looking at things in terms of what’s reasonable to be accomplished,” she said. “And I worked under a year contract so if didn’t do my job well, I would have to leave.”

Serving on national boards allowed her to see how boards should function in terms of budgets, policies, procedures and watching for legislation that could affect the board.

“Those are the talents I bring to the table,” she said.

Banks has been attending town hall meetings for the last two years. She has seen the board split on important issues because it failed to appoint a fifth member after Phil Aldridge resigned. That is why her first goal, if elected, is for the board to draft a policy to address future vacancies.

“We can’t let a vacancy occur for more than 90 days,” she said. “You can’t govern with a missing member.”

Banks said the board should accept applications and perform interviews for a vacancy. If the board can’t agree upon an appointment, she said the applications should be turned over to the Haywood County Commissioners to interview and make an appointment.

Her second goal is to review the town’s policies for taking over roads because it has been a major concern for many residents. She said the town could do much more to facilitate the paving of roads or improving road access under current conditions.

If the festival grounds could become self-sufficient and even profitable, Banks said that money could be used for road projects.

Her third goal would be to put together a long-term budgeting plan to fund projects that would transition Maggie Valley into a year-round tourist attraction.

“I want to work with the community to make that vision happen and I’d like to see the community come together to accomplish this,” Banks said.

She said the Move Maggie Forward plan was a great starting point for accomplishing that goal. While the plan was designed for the business community to run with, Banks said she would like to see the town facilitate the process.

Some aldermen candidates have said a new group should form to implement the plan because the Maggie Valley Chamber of Commerce only represented its members.

“But you have to be careful when talking about establishing another bureaucratic group,” she said. “The chamber does represent the business community – not all businesses are members, but I’d like to see all businesses participate.”

As for her position on taxes, Banks said she see taxes as a necessary evil to pay for services and amenities. She is committed to going through the budget to look for opportunities for savings but would never guarantee to lower taxes.

“But I will work toward keeping taxes as low as possible,” she said. “I think the town has done an admiral job cutting our taxes down 2 percent while costs were increased.”

If elected, Banks said she would do her homework before the meetings and be prepared to make decisions on agenda items. She said the board could also benefit by following Robert’s Rules of Order when conducting meetings.

“I think public comment should be limited to three minutes and pertain to current issues and not issues settled a year ago,” she said. “The mayor has tried to let everyone have their say, which is good in principle, but it leads to chaos.”

Banks and fellow candidates Mike Eveland and Saralyn Price have been holding meet and greets together, but Banks said each is running a separate campaign.

“We talk to one another when looking at the issues and throw ideas back and forth, but I’m an independent person and it doesn’t commit me to vote with them,” she said.

If there is a contentious issue before the board, Banks said she would be sure to get community feedback to the board and be willing to compromise and negotiate with other aldermen. Once an issue has been voted on, she said it needed to rest instead of being brought up again and again at meetings.