Franklin City Council Ward 6 candidate Q&A: Jessica Grant Banks

Published 6:50 pm Tuesday, October 25, 2022

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Franklin City Council – Ward 6

Name:  Jessica Grant Banks

Age:  34

Family: Husband, Rev. James Banks, Jr., Pastor, Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church, Boykins, granddaughter of the late Charles “Pete” Grant and Elmira Grant, bonus Mom to Daija and Elijah Banks, and fur-mom to Jackson, my Labradoodle.

Education: Franklin High School, class of 2005; BA, Norfolk State University., class of 2019, pursuing masters in Divinity, Samuel D. Proctor School of Theology, Virginia Union University.

Career: Educator, English teacher, Southampton High School

Why do you want to be elected as a member of the Franklin City Council?

I want to be elected as a member of the Franklin City Council because I want to see and promote Unity, Quality Education and improve the quality of life in our community.

What would you list as your primary qualifications for being a city council member?

Having been reared by my grandparents, I am an “old soul” and grounded. Thanks to the other “hats” I wear as wife, mom, fur-mom, Clergy, First Lady of our church and Ministry Music leader, educator, former school board member, and summer camp coordinator, I have acquired the ability to be a peacemaker, to work well with others and to have excellent cross-generational communication skills.  At any given time, it is not unusual to have to navigate communicating with students in and out of the classroom to collaborating with my colleagues, to talking to parents and church members, to board members, then home to family and pet.

What do you think are the city of Franklin’s greatest strengths?

One of the City of Franklin’s greatest strengths is its RESILIENCE. To see the City of Franklin bounce back from the devastation of Hurricane Floyd in 1999 speaks to its “can do” attitude and the tremendous power of what can happen when the community is working together on one accord. Another strength is its great potential for growth. The City of Franklin seems open and receptive to welcoming and encouraging new ideas and innovation. Moreover, it has provided a supportive climate for attracting and supporting new business needs, as evidenced by the new openings of the Foodbank, Wawa and Starbucks.

What do you think are the greatest challenges facing the city of Franklin?

I think the greatest challenges facing the City of Franklin are apathy in the community and having an adequate workforce.

If elected, what will be your leading priorities as a council member?

My first priority as a council member will be to reach out to the various constituents of Ward 6 to listen, and to reinforce my desire to be accessible. I plan to develop regular communication methods to keep them informed and abreast of City Council issues and matters of concern in the community. I want all of them, from the youth to the seniors, to feel heard and empowered.

How would you support fostering a relationship between the City Council and the Franklin City School Board?  

Having served for three years on the Franklin City School Board, I know transparency and open and regular communication are essential to a healthy and collaborative working relationship.

What, if any, key improvements do you think need to be made to the city’s public education system, and if elected, what will you do to ensure those needed key improvements are made?

I think one key Improvement will be to have the School Superintendent visible in the community and another is to invite collaboration with community partners. The school system cannot tackle all the needs for providing a good quality education alone.

If elected, I would encourage regular communication between City Council and School Board, and encourage the City Council and School Board to come up tangible ways the community partners can get more involved with working together on community issues.