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 third Thursday of each month. 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
Mayor Gary Norton
912.856.0114 – Business Cell
912.964.4379 – Office

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.

Mayor Gary Norton | Mayor

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

Thomas Barbee | Council Member, At-Large 1
912.856.0398 – Business Cell
912.964.4379 – Office

Thomas Barbee | Council Member, At-Large 1

Thomas Barbee is currently serving his third 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!

Artlise Alston-Cone

Artlise Alston-Cone, Council Member, At-Large 2
912.964.4379 – Office

Artlise Alston-Cone | Council Member, At-Large 2

Artlise Alson-Cone was elected as a Council Member in November 2023 and is serving her first time as an elected official representing the 2nd at large district of the City of Port Wentworth.

Ms. Alson-Cone graduated from Herscel V. Jenkins High School in Chatham County and studied at Bennett College and graduating college from Nova Southeastern University.

Determined to make a difference, Ms. Alston-Cone has dedicated the last 27 years to serving students, teachers, and leaders by leading educational transformations from the classroom to the boardroom, utilizing data to effectively and efficiently lead organizations, empowering parents and community engagement, implementing innovative strategies to enhance teaching and learning, as well as inspiring the change we want to see. Her unique approach to problem solving has led to ArtLise being one of the most consulted educational leaders in our state.

Ms. Alston-Cone has lived in Port Wentworth for 17 years and currently works as an educator. Her goal is to provide a quality of life for Port Wentworth residents through smart development by improving infrastructure, especially the traffic situation, increasing resources for the down and uptown areas and fostering partnerships for the city.

Here’s what Ms. Alston-Cone had to say following her swearing-in:

“I am excited for this opportunity and look forward to hearing from the citizens of Port Wentworth about what they feel the community needs,” said Alston-Cone. 

Gabrielle Nelson | Mayor Pro Tem, District 1
912.461.0635 – Business Cell
912.964.4379 – Office

Gabrielle Nelson | Mayor Pro Tem, District 1

A lifelong Chatham County resident, Mayor Pro Tem Gabrielle Nelson was born in Savannah and raised by her grandparents who 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. Her grandparents raised her to be a sensible woman who always listens with her ears in addition to her heart. Understandably so, she is an advocate of children’s interest in addition to improving the lives of all she encounters and is always seeking options for youth to progress within the community.

When she wasn’t in school or church, she was pulling weeds in her grandparents beautiful southside corner lot home. She was truly a preacher’s kid and had a deeper appreciation for life than her peers. She was educated in the SCCPSS as well as the former Armstrong Atlantic State University. Dreams of early home ownership sparked her passion for helping others on their financial literacy journeys. Her 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.

Prior to being elected, Mayor Pro Tem Nelson served on the Port Wentworth Planning and Zoning Commission, providing her with a profound understanding of our ever-changing economy and the way cities and counties should efficiently plan for and create growth. As a Councilwoman she interacts with citizens, fellow elected officials, and other dignitaries County, State and nationwide to create or enhance policy, ensure that local ordinances and state laws are adhered to and works tirelessly to improve communications between all adjoining parties. She has worked relentlessly since being elected to bring better quality of life to all her citizens including opening a technology center, breaking ground on a state-of-the-art sports complex that includes the Savannah Ghost Pirates training facility and initiating a partnership with Chatham County government and Habitat for Humanity of the Coastal Empire to create new housing options for the City of Port Wentworth. Nelson also initiated the city becoming a certified city of ethics and city of civility through the Georgia Municipal Association. This heart at City Hall also hosts multiple family-oriented events throughout the year that she has branded as Heart Festivals. She influences cohesiveness and compassion throughout the city’s leadership. Among her accomplishments, she is a Georgia Forward & Georgia Municipal Association 2023 “Young Gamechanger” graduate, a Georgia Municipal Association Robert E. Knox, Jr. Municipal Leadership Institute 2023 graduate, and has earned both GMA’s Certificate of Recognition & Certificate of Achievement. She is also a member of the 2024 class of the prestigious Leadership Savannah. She is not only a member but serves as the vice chair of the National League of Cities Small Cities Council. She also volunteers with several organizations throughout the community, serves on various boards and strives to inject heart into everything she is a part of!

In addition to her work as a local elected official Mayor Pro Tem Nelson is also a devoted Chatham County Government employee with 15 years of service. Because of her proven leadership skills and abilities, she has been able to matriculate upward through The County Government structure working in positions with increasingly significant responsibilities. She is currently the Computer Support Manager for the County’s IT department. In that role she manages the IT Helpdesk and procurement division and provides substantial administrative and financial input throughout the year concerning the departmental budget. She understands financial risks and possesses the ability to plan and project appropriately and works to ensure The County’s investments are effectively protected year after year. Nelson truly embodies the multiplier effect and is passionate about helping others meet their goals. Her professional background that includes legal, technical, administrative, and budgetary functions as well as an in depth understanding of government practices, have provided her the ability to not only create, but carry out detailed initiatives in a wide array of areas and has directly impacted her progress within the city.

This mother of three is a proven communicator with a service grounded heart and mind who understands it all starts at home! Her children Marissa, Sire and Maverick are what drive her daily! She is an active and dedicated mother who believes in showing them the way, even bringing them along to meetings and allowing them to ask questions of the body. Mayor Pro Tem Nelson even makes time to coach her children’s little league sports teams right here in the city and looks forward to each game!

Mark Stephens
Mark Stephens | Council Member,
District 2
912.675.4151 – Business Cell
912.964.4379 – Office

Mark Stephens | Council Member, District 2

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
Rufus Bright | Council Member,
District 3
912.461.0636 – Business Cell
912.964.4379 – Office

Rufus Bright | Council Member, District 3

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. 

Shawn Randerwala
Shawn Randerwala | Council Member,
District 4
912.401.1944 – Business Cell
912.964.4379 – Office

Shawn Randerwala | Council Member, District 4

Shawn Randerwala was elected as a Council Member in November 2023 and is serving her first time as an elected official representing the 4th Council District of City of Port Wentworth.

Mr. Randerwala is a proud graduate of Burke County High School and Georgia Southern University, where he honed his skills and passion for entrepreneurship. Hailing all the way from Zambia, he has called Port Wentworth home for the past 14 years, residing in the Rice Hope community with his wife and son.

He has a diverse portfolio of small businesses under his belt, including charming hotels, delectable restaurants and trendy retail stores. He is constantly fueled by the thrill of creating unique experiences for his customers. He is serves on two non-profit organizations, Go Dharmic and SEGA charity. He has truly striven to make a difference beyond the realm of business.

He is serving his first term in local government, elected in November of 2023 is brings a wealth of experience and creativity to the City Council.

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