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Pooler Magazine

Mayor Rebecca Benton

Mayor Rebecca Benton: Pooler is Where Her Heart is

Story by Katrice Williams

Home is where the heart is, and Mayor Rebecca Benton’s heart has been in this city for as long as she can remember. Saying that the mayor is “Pooler Proud” does not express the love and appreciation she has long possessed for her city.

Benton has lived in Pooler for her entire life. Her dad Frank owned Benton’s Dairy while her mom Elizabeth was a homemaker and was an educator for 20 years.

After attaining a two-year liberal arts degree from Sullins College in Virginia, Benton continued her education at the University of Georgia, earning a degree in political science.

After graduating, Benton decided she wanted to teach. She saw issues that needed dire attention in the educational system at the time, such as better facility management and improved student resources, including textbook availability. She knew she wanted to make a larger difference in some way.

Developing a Career in Law

After teaching for a few years, Benton attended graduate school and earned a degree in law, marking the start of her career in the local political arena.

While she is currently semi-retired from law, Benton has been an attorney since 1983. She remembers that her parents, two of her biggest inspirations, often expressed very different political views. She fondly recalls countless discussions where they both relayed their different standpoints.

At the start of her law career, Benton was part of the legal team at Morris and Morris Law Firm. At the time, Archie Morris—her family’s personal lawyer—was one of her biggest mentors. She admired the way he conducted business and handled issues.

Benton was sincerely interested in the welfare of her community; she was also very active in it, learning from her parents the importance of community involvement.

“My parents were always very active in the community, so I followed,” she said.

They, too, encouraged her to support the area in which she lived—the local businesses, schools and organizations; however, at that time, most services were offered in Savannah, as Pooler was not nearly as developed as it is today.

“When I was young, this was about a two-square block area. There was one grocery store and a couple of service stations; that was it. Everyone had to go to Savannah for any type of service. Now, Pooler has all the services you need. It’s nice not to have to go outside the city for services,” she stated.

Running for Mayor

As a practicing attorney, Benton decided to run for city council and was elected to the council team in 2004. She shared in the vision that the elected mayor, Mike Lamb, along with other council members and the city manager embraced.

Aware of the city’s continuous growth, they foresaw a city surrounded by rapid commercialization and industrialization, a continual expansion of local services, along with overall infrastructure advancements.

Over the years, Benton, alongside the other council members, were able to address all those issues, especially during Pooler’s massive growth explosion over the past decade. What is more, she served as Mayor Pro Tem for about half of her total terms on the council, allowing her to “assume temporary mayoral duties in the mayor’s absence,” which included presiding over the council during those times.

Benton enjoyed her role on the council and appreciated the opportunity to be a true advocate for her community. In 2019, she learned of Mayor Lamb’s retirement and was encouraged to run for the office, gaining a lot of support from the sitting mayor himself, who had long been one of her most notable professional mentors. Benton decided to run for office on behalf of the city that she loved and respected—a city she wanted to see continuously thrive.

“I wanted the betterment of the community and equality for all our residents,” she commented. In the November 2019 election, Benton took two of the three Pooler precincts. “A win is a win,” she joked.

Moreover, Benton funded most of her mayoral run with her own money, alongside the generous contributions of a few donors.

“I just had Rebecca’s money,” she laughed.

She was sworn in on January 6, 2020. Little did she know, a life-changing event was right around the corner. Barely six weeks into her administration, the coronavirus pandemic hit the community—and the entire world—as a catastrophic, plaguing storm.

The mayor, with the support of other city officials, immediately answered their call to duty, taking action while enforcing guidelines and imposing city mandates to help keep the city as safe and healthy as possible. As the head of the city council, the mayor presides over meetings. She persists to maintain clarity, transparency and good communication between the city and its residents.

Plans for the City

Moving forward, there are several focal points that the mayor and other local officials are actively addressing.

She supports additional commercialization and wants to help ensure that necessary traffic light timing modifications are made, along with improvements to roads and highways, including the lane modifications underway on Pooler Parkway, Benton Boulevard, Pine Barren Road and Quacco Road. A big goal for the mayor is for all the projects to be done as efficiently and effectively as possible for Pooler residents.

“I just want the projects to continue to be completed,” she said.

Even more, the mayor enjoys being an active member of her church home, Trinity United Methodist Church, where she is a member of the choir and participates on the nominating committee. She is also a member of the Garden Club of Pooler, the Pooler Rotary and the Pooler Lions Club.

Mayor Benton is grateful for her entire support team—all those who help keep Pooler strong as the city goes full steam ahead into the future.

Though Pooler has changed immensely since its humble beginnings, Mayor Rebecca Benton cannot wait to see what is in store for the city that has long been her home and her heart.