Ga. governor appoints Port Wentworth councilman amid city tensions

Local News

PORT WENTWORTH, Ga. (WSAV) – The state has stepped in to sort out some of the issues that have been halting business in Port Wentworth City Council.

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed an executive order Monday appointing Donald “Herschel” Hodges as the District 1 council member in Port Wentworth.

He will take the place of Shari Dyal, who resigned last month.

Since her resignation and the passing of Mayor Pro-Tem Debbi Johnson, the council has had two open seats.

Meanwhile, two councilmen, Thomas Barbee and Mark Stephens, have refused to come to any meetings where a vote could be taken to fill either council seat.

After two months without a quorum, the city requested help from the governor’s office to settle the dispute and get back to business.

“Lawyers are sending us dirty letters saying, ‘Hey, when are you going to approve our project?’ And they just wouldn’t come to council meetings so we just had to do something,” Mayor Gary Norton explained.

Hodges’ appointment means Port Wentworth will have enough voting members to hold a meeting even if Stephens and Barbee skip out again — though the mayor hopes that’s not the case.

“Please y’all come back and let’s try to work on these things together,” Norton said. “It’s not about me and Barbee, it’s not about me and Stephens it’s about this city and what we need to do.”

A swearing-in ceremony will be held for Hodges at 10 a.m. Tuesday in council chambers on Highway 25. News 3 is told a special meeting will be held Wednesday night to do business.

Norton said Johnson’s seat will stay open until the regular council meeting on Thursday, Feb. 27.

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