GALVESTON — The city has taken the stance that Jim Yarbrough is eligible to run for mayor.

In a news release sent Friday, the city said Yarbrough was “eligible to be a candidate and his name will be on the May 2014 ballot.”

The statement was made in response to a letter sent to the city secretary Wednesday by a lawyer representing two of Yarbrough’s opponents in the mayoral race, Elizabeth Beeton and Don Mafrige. The lawyer, Mark Wawro, asked the city secretary to declare Yarbrough ineligible to be in the race because of a homestead exemption Yarbrough had on house in Fayette County for eight months in 2013.

Yarbrough’s opponents claimed the exemption violates the city’s eligibility rules for candidates running for mayor.

The city charter requires that a person’s “primary physical residence” be in the city limits for at least a year before an election. In order for a candidate’s address to qualify as a primary residence, the candidate cannot claim a homestead exemption on a property outside of town.

In the statement, the city said because Yarbrough’s Fayette County homestead exemption was removed, it was not applicable for the entire year.

“James Yarbrough claimed no homestead exemption on any property in the year 2013,” the statement says.

That statement is seemingly a matter of interpretation.

Yarbrough did apply for a homestead exemption on his ranch home in an unincorporated part of Fayette County in March 2012. That exemption remained in place for 17 months, until September 2013, when Yarbrough sent a handwritten note to the Fayette County Central Appraisal District asking for the removal of the exemption with an effective date of Jan. 1, 2013.

That exemption was granted, and the appraisal district’s record now indicate there was no homestead exemption in 2013.

Yarbrough has said he removed the exemption because he knew it could affect his eligibility for mayor. Yarbrough said after removing the exemption, he paid all taxes on the home as if the exemption had never existed.

Beeton and Mafrige’s challenge to the city does not make issue of tax payments and argues that the city’s definition of eligibility supersedes the state election code’s definition of residency — which does not address homesteads.

Reached by phone after the city’s statement released, Mafrige said he and Beeton were considering their next step in challenging Yarbrough’s candidacy.

“It was no surprise,” Mafrige said of the decision. “We’re going to take another step for sure. It would be a legal step.”

Beeton did not return a phone call seeking comment.

Yarbrough said he was pleased with the city’s standpoint, which matched his own, but said that he didn’t think it was the end of the issue.

“Who knows?” Yarbrough said. “I’m pleased that the city secretary upheld it. I hope this end of it. We need to get on campaigning.”

Contact reporter John Wayne Ferguson at 409-683-5226 or john.ferguson@galvnews.com.

(17) comments

Jarvis Buckley

Surprise , surprise, Gerry's are still running . Nothing will ever change on this island. That's why taxes so high. Property sells so low.

Steve Fouga

Nice try.

Ellen Morrison

Really now, shouldn't the headline read "Brian Maxwell, as acting City Manager, clears Jim Yarbrough - his former supervisor - to run for Galveston Mayor"?

Bill Broussard

I thought Heber said only a judge could make that determination. There is all kind of reasons to question the City making that call at this point

Jarvis Buckley

Confusedemmy you hit the nail on the head. Let's let all three run on their merits and let the hair go
With the hide.

Brian Cann

This whole thing stinks to high heaven. Is this really the best that Galveston has to offer? I wouldn't trust any of these people to run a lemonade stand.

And we wonder why galveston is such a crap hole

Vote for none of the above and then just pick a name out of the phone book.

Chris DeVries

These comments amaze me. If I hated the island as much as some of you, I think I would move.

An objective reading of the city charter and the facts clearly shows there's enough ambiguity that the man should be able to run. I am not objective, as I've known Jim for most of my life. Anyone who claims Jim doesn't live in Galveston either a) doesn't know him, or b) is playing the old chicken^#%€ game of politics that is so common these days.

Hey Elizabeth and Don, how about competing on the basis of ideas and vision instead of this b.s. "Gotcha" stuff you dredged up?

Ron Shelby

Unfortunately, that is Beeton and Mafridge's campaigning since neither can beat him based on skills and experience, or in an outright debate on how to successfully run a large public entity.

Ellen Morrison

That is part of the issue... the mayor does NOT run the city.

Robert Young

Ok..city secretary rules move on..nothing to see here folks.

Linda Vaccaro

This stinks to high heavens!

Mike Leahy

The idea that 2 mayoral candidates will waste their money and time (actually OUR time, too) trying to win by default instead of by merit does indeed stink to high heavens.

I trust that is what you meant, LV1951?

There are a number of significant pro's and con's for each of these three candidates. Yarborough's ranch and Mafridge's toupe are equal in their utter insignificance.

Paul Burgess

Sounds like Galveston does a better job vetting candidates than the Feds.With the same results?

Doyle Beard

bet one thing if he had not run for mayor he would not have removed the homestead. Just another thing that is wrong with politicians in our country. Just skirting the rules as usual.

Richard Moore

I could see a Yarbrough campaign series about his opponents based upon "Ned in the first reader"!

Bill Quiroga

Is Yarbrough good for Galveston?

Mr. Dolph Tillotson wrote an article entitle “Their job is to control spending” August 29, 2004, this is a must read.

Quoting Mr. Tillotson’s, “Increasing spending by 80 percent over just six years is plainly unacceptable. It’s sloppy and a sign of bad management.”

Does Galveston need this?

Jarvis Buckley

Miceal exactly how much money did EB spend , and how much time did she waste. Come on Man!!!!!!!

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