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Incumbent councilman seeks Democratic nomination

An incumbent Williamsport City Councilman seeks the Democratic nomination in the May 18 primary election.

Dave Banks, 37, of 1306 Hepburn St. filled the vacancy left by former Councilman Derek Slaughter. Slaughter ran a successful campaign to become mayor and took the oath of office in January 2020.

Banks was appointed to finish out Slaughter’s term and has been a councilman who said he has a passion to grow the city from an economic standpoint.

“That is why I am running for a four-year term until 2025,” he said.

If able to be nominated and retain his seat in the fall election, Banks said he will continue efforts to support economic development, responsibly oversee the city budget, modernize the government’s internet presence and improve infrastructure and pedestrian access throughout Williamsport.

More recently, Banks said he dove into his first budget negotiations and decision. During it, he was among those who helped to identify specific cuts to the city spending plan that reduced a proposed 2021 tax increase by 1.75 mills.

“The budget on our desks is our responsibility,” Banks said. In the end, it was a budget that increased taxes by $50 a year and one in which Slaughter and his administration were asked by council to find a half-mill in cuts, and to their credit, did, Banks said.

Knowing that the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic hit the city and its citizens particularly hard, Banks said he and his colleagues “hunted down every dollar of potential savings.”

Since the start of the pandemic, Banks said the council has taken various measures to limit city spending but these alone won’t get the city where it needs to go.

“Cuts alone won’t make up the difference,” he said. The city must grow its revenue side and increase its tax base.”

Banks pointed toward his accomplishment that included passing a resolution to make city government paperless by 2022.

It is just one of the examples of a broader strategic economic plan.

“The time has come to move from defense to offense and put forward a broad incentive plan for development in Williamsport while retaining the character of our neighborhoods through targeted zoning,” he said.

“We need to rebuild our tax base by attracting remote and technical workers seeking our lower cost of living and higher quality of life,” he said.

Banks took on the role of chairman of the city Economic Revitalization Committee.

“We’re going to invite leaders from different sectors of the city to talk to the committee,” he said.

The discussions with leaders of business and industry, education and the environment is expected to lead to an incentive plan, part of a strategic plan that has a focus on marketing the city to developers, he said.

“The goal is to speak with stakeholders to learn what their needs are,” Banks said.

Banks is a member of the city Public Works Committee, which is currently reviewing the street repaving projects and stormwater transfer from city underground assets to the Williamsport Municipal Water and Sanitary Authority.

“The authority has more capabilities to really be able to dive into the problems we face in the future in terms of stormwater management,” he said.

Banks is a member of the Williamsport Area Transportation Study Coordinating Committee who believes transportation improvements in the city are key to its economic growth and to providing a more driveable and walkable city.

During his time on council, Banks spearheaded zoning changes to encourage small business development and protect pedestrian shopping districts.

“We had a great public outcry for the Dollar General going in on Washington Boulevard,” Banks said.

However, the result of his input was the committee finding deficiencies in the zoning code and with the administration correcting these problems for long-term positive development.

Among these improvements are pedestrian-friendly aspects built into the amendments to zoning law. These specifically improve the shopping districts on Washington Boulevard and on West Fourth Street in Newberry, he said.

Banks said the amended zoning law is an incentive to building developers. It also assures the city retains its character as walkable neighborhoods.

Born and raised in the greater Williamsport area, Banks continues a three-generation legacy of service to the city.

Banks graduated from Lycoming College in 2007 with a bachelor of arts in religion.

He joined the U.S. Navy in 2011 where he earned a degree in Persian/Farsi from the Defense Language Institute, and served as a cryptologist, mission manager, and sexual assault victim’s advocate until his honorable discharge in 2016.

After returning to Williamsport in 2016, Banks graduated from the Pennsylvania College of Technology with a degree in Surveying Technology in 2018, and currently works as a survey designer.

“Williamsport is the best kept secret in Pennsylvania,” he said. “Let’s get the word out.”

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