Three local leaders give their takes on the year ahead

2022 in the Coastal Empire

Mayors Shirley Sessions, Van Johnson, and Rebecca Benton

Shirley Sessions 

Mayor, City of Tybee Island

“The only constant is change… Whether it’s changing from 2021 to 2022 and beyond, the only thing we know for sure is there will be change. I’ve learned the importance of adapting to that change and making it work in a positive way and recognizing that you can only change yourself. You can only change how you react to other people and situations. That’s something I hope to do better in 2022.” 

“In 2020 we were all so excited for the New Year… Then the pandemic happened and everything in our lives changed. We had to realize that we had no control over anything, but how we adapt to change and how we embrace it.” We’ve learned to embrace change and how we think about challenges.” I personally I’ve learned to look at challenges as opportunities. Because that’s what I saw in 2020 and 2021, opportunities that we’ve been forced to make for ourselves. And in 2022 there will be new opportunities disguised and challenges.” 

“I’m looking forward to days like this (gorgeous day on the patio of CoCo’s at Lazaretto Creek).  I’m looking forward to doing what I can to encourage people to be positive and instead of concentrating on what they don’t have. And I’m a big believer in trying to be the change that you want to see.”  When I hear grumbling, even on Tybee, I try to encourage people to look around at all that we have and look beyond the Lazaretto Bridge. What can you do to make Tybee better, to make Savannah better, to make our country better. And sometimes it’s a change in your own attitude.” 

“I look forward to music and being able to listen to live music outside and I look forward to being able to have lunches with friends and family again and I look forward to traveling again.”  

“There’s a lot to look forward to!” Here on Tybee we will be celebrating our 135th anniversary as a city.” I’m looking forward to working with the council and our staff and our residents to plan a big celebration for Tybee in October.” So, I look forward to parades and I look forward to gatherings and I look forward to embracing fun again.” We took it for granted for so long and now we’re slowly getting back into it and I hope 2022 is wide open for fun and festivities, celebrated safely with our new normal.”


Van Johnson 

Mayor, City of Savannah 

“I am looking forward to Savannah finally defeating COVID and re-establishing our new normal and finally being able to move on in our new environment.”  I think we have forever been changed. I think hand-sanitizer and masking to some degree is forever going to be part of our vernacular as well as booster shots and vaccinations… …But also hopefully we’ll pay more attention to our health and safety and I’m looking forward to that.” 

“From this (pandemic) we have learned what Savannah Strong really is. We’ve seen people doing marvelous things, looking out for their neighbors and that’s what Savannah’s all about.”    

“I’m looking forward to the third year of my first term as mayor. We’ve done some great things over the first two years, even in the midst of a pandemic and I’m just looking forward being healthy, remaining calm, keeping my peace and really moving forward.” 

“And I’m looking forward to people being kinder. I think (because of social media) people have just gotten mean and we don’t have to be that way. I think the new seat at our table should be filled with kindness and respect and empathy. And I’m hoping to add those seats as well.” 


Rebecca Benton 

Mayor, City of Pooler 

“I hope the city will continue moving forward with all of our projects. And that the One Chatham transportation tax will pass in the Spring for needed road improvement projects. Without it there won’t be much money to work on road projects. And that the city continues to progress as it has.”

“I’ve been in city government now 18 years, 16 on city council and two as mayor and we have the best employees we’ve ever had in Pooler . I hope we can keep theses great employees.”

“I hope we can all work together. We just need to be unified as the United States and work together for a common goal for all. Most people to respect the rights of others… We only see the bad part on some of the media…”

“I’m ready for COVID to be under control…  And I look forward to traveling again. I’ve been planning a trip to Southern France with South Carolina ETV. I’ve had some of the best trips with ETV and I’m hoping COVID is under control (in 2022) and that we can travel again.”  


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