GALVESTON — Jim Yarbrough didn’t think he would win by this much.
In fact, he was so unsure of the results of the city’s mayoral race, he did not plan a victory party, he said. Instead, he stayed home and saved his campaign money for a presumed runoff.
That’s money he will not need to spend.
Yarbrough was elected mayor of Galveston on Saturday, according to complete but unofficial results, garnering 59 percent of the vote. He finished well ahead of District 3 Councilwoman Elizabeth Beeton, who earned 24 percent of the vote.
For Yarbrough, the victory marks the end of a four-year hiatus from elected office. From 1994 to 2010, he was county judge.
“I’ve been around the block enough times to know that you always prepare for the worst case,” Yarbrough said. “The worst case was a runoff, so we had mentally prepared for it.”
Yarbrough had been a clear favorite since announcing his intentions in October. Soon after Yarbrough announced his intentions, incumbent Mayor Lewis Rosen announced he would not seek re-election and became one the campaign’s most visible supporters.
He was hardly the only supporter though. Yarbrough raised more than $113,000 during the campaign.
“I’m not a good fundraiser,” Yarbrough said. “People have just been very generous. I never made a phone call.”
Following a campaign that was largely on the perceived dysfunctions of the current city council, Yarbrough said restoring confidence in elected leaders would be one of his top priorities.
“We’ll begin to move this city toward honoring the charter and let the city management run the place,” Yarbrough said.
There was perhaps a little irony in Yarbrough being in his Broadway home on election night. Early in the campaign, Beeton and island businessman Don Mafrige joined forces to challenge Yarbrough’s eligibility to run based on this residency.
The challenge was unsuccessful: Galveston’s city secretary upheld Yarbrough’s eligibility and a state judge declined to hear an appeal.
Mafrige and Beeton continued to launch other attacks at Yarbrough but were not able to pull enough votes to force a runoff.
Mafrige finished with 16 percent of the vote, about 882 votes total.
According to campaign finance reports submitted to the city before the race, Mafrige, the chairman of the city’s finance committee, spent the largest amount of money.
“We ran a good race,” Mafrige said. “The people and the community certainly made their choice on Jim Yarbrough, and I certainly congratulate him.”
A fourth candidate, Raymond Guzman, received 66 votes.
In total, 5,567 people cast ballots in mayor’s race. The 1,707 votes that Yarbrough received from early voting alone was more than Beeton’s total of 1,358 votes.
For Beeton, the loss in the election marks the end of her six-year tenure on the city council. In a phone call from her home on Saturday night, she said she would miss serving the city.
“I’m a little envious of the new council because I think it’s a good council,” Beeton said. “It’s much more likely to be citizen-oriented than the recent past. I’m sorry to have been a part of this last council, instead of the next one.”