Government

Mayor and Council

The City of Port Wentworth is a Georgia municipal corporation with an elected Mayor and six elected Council Members. Council Members are elected for Districts 1, 2, 3 and 4; the Mayor and two Council Members are elected at-large; and the Council elects a Mayor Pro-Tem.

The Mayor and Council shall meet at 7 p.m. on the fourth Thursday of each month. The Mayor and Council shall also meet at 7 p.m. the second Tuesday of each odd numbered months. For dates and times of special called meetings, workshops and/or public hearings, contact City Hall at 912-964-4379 or click here to view the calendar.
City of Port Wentworth Elected Officials

Mayor Gary Norton

912.856.0114 - Business Cell 

912.964.4379 - Office

gnorton@cityofportwentworth.com

  • Gary Norton was born and raised in Port Wentworth where he played football and baseball from the age of  6 to 18. At the age of 21 he coached the last Colt League in the history of Port Wentworth at the request of Lewis Mobley, whose son played on the team. He graduated from Groves High School in 1975 furthering his education in management through the International Management Council. In 1981, Gary married Donna Alford-Norton from Pooler. They have a daughter, a son, and five grandchildren. Mr. Norton raised his two children in Port Wentworth where he volunteered on the Recreation Department for 6 years. He coached his daughter’s softball teams for 7 years leading the 16 & Under girls team to the CAA Championship. He also coached his son’s baseball, football and basketball teams for 2 years.

    Mr. Norton is employed at International Paper in Port Wentworth where he has earned “Safety Champion” status while serving on the Mill Wide Safety Team. He was ordained a Deacon at North Salem Baptist Church in 1990 where he functioned on the Board of Deacons for 6 years, as well as volunteered as a RA Director and on the Youth Recreation Committee. Mr. Norton also served as PTO President at Chapel-In-The-Gardens PCA School in Garden City, Georgia where his children attended. In 2009, Gary was elected to the Port Wentworth City Council and served until 2011 where he was successful in rezoning property on Highway 21 from Grange Road to Cargo Group from industrial to light industrial. 

Thomas Barbee | Mayor Pro Tem 

912.856.0398 - Business Cell 

912.964.4379 - Office

tbarbee@cityofportwentworth.com

 
  • Thomas Barbee is currently serving his second term as Councilman for the City of Port Wentworth. Mr. Barbee twice held the title record for the most electoral votes in the history of Port Wentworth (2015 & 2019 broke his own record). Serving people and the community is Councilman Barbee’s motto. In January 2022 Mr. Barbee was unanimously selected by City Council to serve as Mayor Pro Tem.

    He is a very familiar and friendly face to many residents of Port Wentworth. Born in Tennessee and raised in Indiana, he joined the United States Air Force in 1984 and retired in 2005 after 21 years of honorable service. His work at the Pentagon along with decades of service ingrained a strong belief in accountability. Mr. Barbee moved to Port Wentworth in August 2011 and fell in love with the pulse of the community.

    In 2014, he accepted the appointment for Community Watch Chairmen of Rice Creek, working tirelessly alongside other leaders to create safer neighborhoods. He could see the potential for growth and opportunity and wanted to be a part of that growth. Mr. Barbee was elected in November 2015 with the most electoral votes in the history of Port Wentworth. He holds several college degrees, including a Bachelor of Science in Information Systems Management and two Associate degrees; Criminal Justice and Information Systems Technology from the Community College of the Air Force.

    Mr. Barbee leads by example, always in help mode. For Mr. Barbee, there is no greater reward in public service than knowing that he helped to make a difference in his community!

The Mayor is elected by voters at-large and serves a four year term. The six Council Members are elected from single member districts and serve staggered four year terms.

Jo Smith | Council Member, At-Large P1 

912.461.0630 - Business Cell 

912.964.4379 - Office

jsmith@cityofportwentworth.com

  • Jo Smith has over 30 years of professional business experience. After working for two Fortune 500 companies in management roles, she became an entrepreneur, opening and running three successful companies and managing hundreds of employees.
    She has deep experience with federal, state and local government and has won and executed over two-dozen state contracts for her company. She has the patience, fortitude, and most importantly, the experience to deal with mind-bending government bureaucracy and red tape throughout all layers of government. And additionally, she worked on a major grant project with the second largest university in the state of Georgia.
    Jo’s prior civic involvement includes four years on the board of the Special Purpose Local Sales Tax (SPLOST) oversight committee to ensure transparency and ethics in the utilization of county tax dollars. And five years on the board of the “Buy Local” initiative where her main contribution was to speak in front of PTAs, School Foundations and Booster Clubs and successfully encourage them to patronize local businesses rather than save a few pennies buying online, since the money will come back as tax dollars for the community.

Gabrielle Nelson, District 1 

912.461.0635 - Business Cell 

912.964.4379 - Office

gnelson@cityofportwentworth.com 

  
  • A Georgia native, Councilwoman Gabrielle Nelson was born in Savannah and raised by her grandparents who all ensured she had a well-rounded upbringing. She credits them for providing her with outstanding moral skills and the ability to handle all situations with sensibility and tact. She was educated in the SCCPSS and graduated as her class president. While in college at the former Armstrong Atlantic State University, Gabrielle lost one of her grandfathers. That void became a quest to continue to make him proud even in death and thrust her into overdrive saving for her first home. At the age of 22, Nelson built her first home from the ground up in Port Wentworth and 8 years later, built another with her husband. Councilwoman Nelson’s mission is to bring compassionate and sensible decision making to Port Wentworth that will allow our city to thrive economically and enhance overall community safety and enjoyment.
    Mrs. Nelson has served on the Port Wentworth Planning Commission for the last two years providing her greater understanding of Port Wentworth's economy and the way to efficiently plan and create growth within the city. During the last 12 years she has matriculated through Chatham County local government encountering many experiences and leadership training that have enabled her to be effective in this role. She currently manages the IT Helpdesk and procurement division and provides financial input throughout the year concerning her departmental budget. Councilwoman Nelson understands financial risks and has the ability to plan and project appropriately to enhance Port Wentworth's critical infrastructure and will work to ensure the city's investments are nurtured and protected effectively.

    A proven communicator simply by the definition of her first name, she leads with a service grounded heart and mind! Nelson’s initial focus is on providing resources for all the children of this city, implementing impact fees on new warehouses, and cultivating diversity for Port Wentworth residents. She is confident that with her financially responsible outlook, management education, current Port Wentworth planning and zoning training and experience and the engagement of citizens, she will be able to reach her fellow council members and citizens equally to better assess common needs making gains citywide consistently.

    Councilwoman Gabrielle Nelson intends to influence cohesiveness throughout the city's leadership and truly bring a heart to City Hall.

Mark Stephens | Council Member, District 2

912.675.4151 - Business Cell 

912.964.4379 - Office

mstephens@cityofportwentworth.com

  • Mark Stephens, SSCP is a member of the International Information System Security Certification Consortium (aka (ISC)^2) and holds degrees in both Criminal Justice and Information Security and Assurance from Atlanta Metropolitan College & Kennesaw State University respectively.  He is responsible for helping to secure data and the networks of a multibillion dollar Global Aerospace Company by performing multiple roles within Information Security.  Mark currently holds several Information Technology certifications and in the past, has held technical certifications from organizations such as Cisco Systems, Palo Alto Networks and Microsoft.  Mr. Stephens moved to Port Wentworth in 2013 and enjoys traveling, discovering great music, researching Information Security and technical issues & spending time with his family.

Rufus Bright | Council Member, District 3 

912.461.0636 - Business Cell 

912.964.4379 - Office

rbright@cityofportwentworth.com

  • Rufus W. Bright, Jr. is the son of the late Rufus W. Bright, Sr. and Frances Bright Johnson. Bright, Jr. was educated in the Chatham County Public School System and as a youth, attended Robert W. Gadsden, Cuyler Junior High and graduated from Hershel V. Jenkins High School in 1975. 
    Rufus Bright, Jr. went on to serve in the United States Air Force and is a Military Veteran of the Vietnam Era. He attended Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice and an Associate Degree in Education. Mr. Bright, Jr. also attended one year of law school, but later transferred to Midwestern Christian Institute in Mount Clemens, Michigan. 
    Mr. Bright has obtained several certificates, to include: Bible School Teacher (June 19, 2008), Advanced Bible School Teacher (June 5, 2016), an Associate of Christian Education Certificate (June 5, 2010), a Bachelor of Religious Education Certificate (June 4, 2011) and his official Ordination Certificate (June 4, 2011) that gained him the title of Minister. 
    Minister Bright returned home from Detroit, Michigan August 20, 2011 and worked with the 50th Street Church of Christ training young men for Worship Service and teaching New Converts classes. Additionally, Minister Bright has worked with the Nursing Home Ministry at Tara Nursing Home in Thunderbolt, Georgia, the Prison Ministry at the Chatham County Jail and the Executive Committee of the Savannah Branch of the NAACP, where he served as a member of the NAACP Prison Support Systems Committee. 
    For the past four years, Minister Bright has been serving as Minister for the Church of Christ in Hardeeville, South Carolina. His political aspiration is to "strive to bring a united city together, bring more job opportunities to the city, and have a safe secure city." 

Glenn Jones | Council Member, District 4

912.856.9428 - Business Cell 

912.964.4379 - Office

gjones@cityofportwentworth.com

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