PORT WENTWORTH, Ga (WSAV) – The City of Port Wentworth has sworn-in a new councilman after nearly two months of government in-fighting.
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed an executive order Monday appointing Donald “Herschel” Hodges to the District 1 seat.
Hodges is a life-long resident of the City of Port Wentworth and has served in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Vietnam.
He will take the place of Shari Dyal, who resigned last month. The council has had two open seats since her resignation and the passing of Mayor Pro-Tem Debbi Johnson.
Michael Haupt was at the swearing-in ceremony on Tuesday. He said he’s one of the few residents who haven’t given up hope.
“I grew up with him and he’s the best. They could have done no better. They could have done no better,” said Haupt, speaking about Donald Hodges.
Mayor Gary Norton, the City of Port Wentworth, said two councilmen, Thomas Barbee and Mark Stephens, have been refusing to attend the meetings. He said their absence has been halting business from entering the city and contractors from getting paid.
Norton said, “they know that we need to move this city forward. I’m hoping they’re going to come back and we’re going to continue to work as a team, as six people and myself, work as a team to move this city forward.”
Hodges told News 3 that he hopes his prior experience and rapport with other council members will help to put an end to the deadlock.
“Barbee called me and congratulated me and Stephen sent me a text congratulating me,” said Hodges. “I spent a lot of years in the military and working together as a team in the 165th and building a team is part of my job as chief (…) and I’m sure we’ll get there.”
A special meeting will be held Wednesday night in council chambers on HIghway 25 to sign off on city business.
Norton said Johnson’s seat will stay open until the regular council meeting on Thursday, Feb. 27.