By Clyde Hughes | AC JosepH Media
MOUNT HOLLY — It’s been nine months since Chris Banks became mayor of Mount Holly Township, the first African American to serve in the position since Eugene Stafford in 1989, and said the position is another step in his longtime interest in politics.
Banks had served two years as deputy mayor before taking over the mayor’s position during a council reorganization in January.
Banks, the Philadelphia native who has lived in Mount Holly for 18 years, said he has been curious about politics since a teenager when he attended Bodine High School for International Affairs.
“Bodine is a magnet school in Philly sponsored by the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia at the time, which focused on government and international affairs, this exposure to the different types of governments and political leaders not only locally,” Banks told Front Runner New Jersey.
“Nationally and from around the world also I had the privilege to meet many of these political leaders and ambassadors in person who had major impact and helped shape who I am today.”
Banks said while attending the University of Pittsburgh, his experiences led him to changing his major from computer science to political science after his freshman year.
A New Voice
“But upon graduating from college I did not pursue a political career at that time as I wanted career in [information technology] since this was the trend in the late 90’s,” he said.
“Let’s fast forward to 2013, meeting the right individuals that shared the same vision, then in 2015 my wife Briana and I started volunteering with Mount Holly Recreation and created the MLK Day of Service here in Mount Holly which has occurred every year since its inception. Then in 2020 when it was time for new voices is where my interest in politics was reborn.”
Along with being mayor, Banks owns a local insurance company in Mount Holly, which he has run since 2017. Banks called becoming a small business owner “an incredible journey” and that he is grateful for what he does.
Starting From Scratch
“I started building this insurance business from scratch in 2017, with the help and support of Briana,” Banks said. “Insurance is not sexy, but it is needed. Our mission statement is ‘To provide high quality service to individuals and families allowing for peace during times of need.’
“Being a business owner is like a roller coaster, you need mentors that you can talk to that will help guide you when things are tough and also when things are going well, and you have to remain even keel and focused to work towards your goals by helping others achieve their goals. This same approach helps me as mayor, as you have to remained balanced with your emotions that will allow you to make sound decisions for the residents of Mount Holly.”
Now serving as mayor, along with being a trailblazer for other young African Americans trying to find their way through the business and political words, Banks said he embraces the responsibility that comes with the title.
“To be a role model is an honor because it allows me to share my experiences to help other minorities like me to believe in themselves and realize their potential to succeed in life,” Banks said. “But most important, it gives them hope that if I can do it, they could do it as well and probably better than me if they learn from my experiences.”
Stafford, who was on hand for Banks’ dedication in January, told Insider NJ that the appointment was “well deserved.”
“Mr. Banks has done great things for our town and is a role model for our African American community and for all residents,” Stafford said back in January. “I commend Mayor Banks and the township council for their unwavering dedication to Mount Holly and the improvements they have made in our community.”
Banks told FRNJ that he was pleased to receive Stafford’s blessing and has found serving as mayor “a tremendous honor.”
“His words of wisdom has helped guide me through my first year as mayor,” Banks said of Stafford. “Since we moved here in 2005 to purchase our first home, this town as improved tremendously in my opinion, it is more diverse with different cultures, economically the Downtown has been revitalized and growing and the taxes have been stable.”
The Rest of the Story
Here are some of the other topics covered in the interview with Mayor Banks:
FRNJ: Tell me where you grew up and your family. Just anything you’d like to share.
Chris Banks: I was born and raised in Philadelphia, attended Bodine High School for International Affairs class of 1993 and is graduate of the University of Pittsburgh class of 1997, moved to Mount Holly over 18 years ago, with my wife Briana Wimberly, she is from Mount Holly and is graduate of RV class of 1995 and Drexel University with a Chemical Engineering degree class of 2000, we have three children ages 16, 12 and 11.
FRNJ: What do you want people to remember you by once your term for mayor is done?
Chris Banks: I would like people to remember that I listened, treated people with respect, that I was fair and transparent, and that I always put Mount Holly first.
FRNJ: Who inspires you today?
Chris Banks: I would say my wife Briana inspires me the most and I say that because I have so much respect for her and everything that she was able to accomplish being a wife, mother and balancing her corporate career without missing a beat, she is my best friend. She is my inspiration and motivation to continue to improve every day to become a better person and to help add value to other people’s lives.
FRNJ: Anything else you’d like to add?
Chris Banks: Anything is possible as long as you dream big, speak your goals into existence and associate with positive like-minded individuals.
Follow Us Today On:
Note from AC JosepH Media: If you like this story and others posted on Front Runner New Jersey.com., lend us a hand so we can keep producing articles like these for New Jersey and the world to see. Click on SUPPORT FRNJ and make a contribution that will go directly in making more stories like this available. Thank you for reading.