GALVESTON — Mayor Lewis Rosen’s support of mayoral candidate Jim Yarbrough has become a point of criticism for Yarbrough’s opponents, who say that the lame duck mayor’s endorsement is a sign the former judge would be more of the same for the City Council.

The criticism comes amid a debate about which candidate — all of whom have backgrounds in local politics — represents a true change from the Rosen administration.

Yarbrough, for his part, says that he’s happy to accept Rosen’s support, while Elizabeth Beeton and Don Mafrige say they are looking for the opportunity to lead after two years of being on the losing side of many arguments.


Online ads

To find Beeton’s anti-Yarbrough advertisements, a little digging is required on her campaign website.

On a page called “The Poster Shop,” Beeton invites her supporters to “grab some images and share them with all your friends!” 

The images in question include a pastiche of a Marlboro cigarette advertisement called “the Yarbrough Man” that says Yarbrough is “hand-picked by current Mayor Lewis Rosen.”

Beeton said Friday that the posters on the website are less formal than her standard campaign mailers.

“They’re intended to make a point and be entertaining at the same time,” Beeton said. “The point is that the residents are ready for a change in the mayor’s office, so they might not want to choose someone that Mayor Rosen thinks would continue his administration’s platform.”

Likewise, Mafrige’s campaign has produced an online video that contains the same critique.

The video shows Rosen standing in front of the Galveston County Courthouse — where the polls opened to early voters April 28 — holding a campaign sign supporting Yarbrough.

“Can you tell me why you’re supporting Yarbrough for mayor?” an unnamed videographer asks Rosen.

“I really think that he can do a better job and continue the good work that’s been going on downtown,” Rosen says.

The video closes with audio of a clever sound bite Yarbrough has used throughout his campaign — in which he says that voters should not choose him if they’re happy with the way the city is currently run — juxtaposed with a picture of sign-holding Rosen.

In mailings that began appearing in local mailboxes Friday, the attacks appeared to be in sync. Galveston residents began to receive Yarbrough Man mailers, which also depict the image from the Mafrige video.

The mailers however bear only Mafrige’s name, with no indication they are also connected to Beeton.


Rosen’s support

Rosen, who was elected in 2012 following a runoff with former Mayor Joe Jaworski, has not been bashful about his support of Yarbrough.

“I have a tremendous amount of support in this town,” Rosen said when reached by phone Tuesday. “And I support Jim Yarbrough for mayor. I think he is the best choice for mayor.”

Rosen ended the call by inviting a reporter to visit the polling location, where he would again be campaigning for Yarbrough.

Campaign finance reports due eight days before the election show that Rosen donated $5,000 to Yarbrough’s campaign in April. Rosen also held a “meet and greet” event at his home on Driftwood Lane earlier in the month, an in-kind campaign expense that financial disclosures show cost $4,000.

Soon after Yarbrough’s campaign officially began in January, Rosen began sometimes removing the “city of Galveston” sticker that usually adorned his white GMC Yukon and replacing it with a “Yarbrough for Mayor” decal. Rosen was adamant during an interview that the two stickers were never on his car at the same time.

In a phone interview Friday, Yarbrough said that he wholeheartedly accepted Rosen’s support — adding that the incumbent mayor had been his friend for more than 20 years.

“I gladly accept Mayor Rosen’s support, as well as anybody else’s,” he said. “I don’t know why they’re making it such a criticism. Just because I have somebody’s support does not mean that I will operate in the same fashion.”


What’s an outsider, anyway?

Both Beeton and Mafrige appear to be walking a fine political line while criticizing Yarbrough as an insider into Galveston politics. Beeton has been a council member for six years, and Mafrige is a former council member and the current chair of the finance committee.

Both candidates claim that despite their existing presence at City Hall, they are essentially running as minority bloc candidates and cite past disagreements with Rosen as evidence of that status.

For Beeton, those examples are numerous. From her seat directly to the right of Rosen in the council chambers, Beeton has more than once been gaveled to silence by Rosen. She has voted opposite Rosen on topics related to the seawall parking program, changes to zoning standards and even on continuing the city’s opposition to public housing, a topic they both campaigned in support of in 2012.

Their most notable spat, perhaps, came in August 2013, when the council voted to reorganize the Galveston Island Redevelopment Authority by removing both Beeton and Rosen from that board. Rosen supported the move, but Beeton claimed the vote was aimed specifically at her and her disagreements with developers in the city’s Tax Increment Reinvestment Zones.

Mafrige said that he, too, had been targeted by Rosen, citing a January 2013 proposal by the mayor that would have limited the number of times the city’s finance committee could meet and who could determine that committee’s agenda. That proposal failed.

“Do you know how many times that we’ve recommended that they lower the taxes and that council just ignores?” Mafrige said about his role at City Hall with the finance committee. “Any committee that recommends is just on the outside.”

Beeton said she had been excluded from leadership posts, despite her seniority on the City Council.

“I’ve been a member of the minority on the council,” Beeton said. “I have tried to move us in a different direction.”


Contact reporter John Wayne Ferguson at 409-683-5226 or

(18) comments

Jarvis Buckley

Is Big Money behind Big Jim?. You decide.

Ellen Morrison

Kinda looks like it, doesn't it?

Robert Buckner

Politics as usual as I see it.

Ana Draa

I can't wait to see Judge Yarbrough win!

GW Cornelius

Weird since Mafrige is running on the same platform Lewis Rosen had and Elizabeth is running on I am Queen of Galveston do what I say .Sounds like Yarbrough is the only clear choice.

George Croix

Why criticize?
It's just a simple case of doing the same things over again for a half century or more, hoping for a different outcome.
What's wrong with that?

Miss Priss

If Mafrige or Beeton were getting Rosen's endorsement, none of this would be a topic.

Good old fashion jealousy to bad mouth and question the predecessor who is endorsing another to deflect why that person is not endorsing you. My question to Beeton is why do you think he is not backing you? He served side by side with you. Who do you think knows better knows what your strength and weaknesses are? The real answer might be that he doesn't think that you have the ability to influence other council members in a positive effective manner.

Evelyn Clark

True, if Rosen was backing EB or Mafrige you would not here this type of

MUDSLINGING. We need to clean out the whole council and start over.This has

been the worst city council we have ever had form MAYOR to COUNCILMAN.

Miss Priss

Values have never been issue with Rosen, the problems has always been his tactics. Tactics or lack of them is what destroys 95% of leaders who seek / placed into leadership even if they mean well. Too bad Beeton can't reasonably see that one.

Yarbrough knows better than anyone the difference between leading in government and private business but also the similarities. Rosen didn't have time to figure that one out.

Ron Shelby

I'm totally disappointed in the way councilwoman beeton has played ALL of this. Id be happy to see a nearly complete replacement of the current council in order to get some cooperation. I'd avoid giving any of them a vote for fear they'd interpret it as an endorsement for refusing to find middle ground on any issue. They've acted kind of spoiled rather than working towards what the city needs as a whole. Solely serving just a portion of your district is not serving the city as a whole. Cooperation is not in their vocabulary.

On an elementary school report card they'd get a "DOES NOT PLAY WELL WITH OTHERS". I'm fed up with this, along with the dirty politics like the lawsuits from Mafridge and Beeton. Good riddance.

Jarvis Buckley

Yarbrough's group sound like paid pundits , instead of folks that really want our Island to flourish.
I'm starting to doubt if Galveston is ever going to change. EB is our last chance, for this decade.
Are you really thinking that Big Jim is going to change anything? You know better. we can make a difference. But we have to vote.

Ron Shelby

Yes Definitely! If you'd worked in County Government, you'd totally understand.

Steve Fouga

It's disconcerting to see such support for Big Jim from companies that stand to prosper if he's elected, but it's by no means unusual. That's just how it works... all the time... everywhere.

I like his demeanor through both the criticism and the praise. He's standing above the fray. A sign of an experienced and confident leader.

To answer Jarvo, I think Big Jim will change things -- some better and some worse. City government will run better, almost for sure.

George Croix

It's always eye opening to wake up one fine morning and realize that because we were once able to do things doesn't mean we will necessarily be able to do them as the years go by.
If you are going to tout successess, remember that all glory is fleeting, replaced soon enough by what have you done today, and don't overlook failures, when preparing for what is yet to come.
Good luck to all the candiadtes, and certainly to the winner.
Galveston needs a full basket, for a change, instead of jusrt remaining a perpetual basket case.
Your vote will determine what's in that basket.
Choose wisely.

Jarvis Buckley

I only wish the best for our island. I think EB is the best candidate. I certainly stand to be corrected
By the voters. I just wish we could all pull in the same direction. I definitely am not for more free
Housing, more crime, more taxes, more liter.

Steve Fouga

I think EB is the best candidate too, Jarvo. I don't think Big Jim is a bad choice, but it's too bad he and the Big-Business / Big-Families juggernaut came along to spoil Mrs Beeton's chances.

Here's something that as an outsider I don't get about Galveston: Why oh why are cooperation and consensus so valued on this Island? Mr Yarbrough is practically basing his campaign on his ability to bring about Council consensus, and Mr Mafrige is big on it too.

Back when I worked for a living, in our staff meetings, our planning sessions, really in ANY of our deliberations, we valued conflict over consensus. It's how new ideas are brought forward. It's how all sides of an issue are examined and no stones left unturned. It's how big science and big technology operate. True, eventually everyone has to agree, or else someone must decide to move forward without agreement.

Maybe that's why consensus is so valued here. Without it, someone has to make tough decisions.

Miss Priss


Conflict is good thing but it has got to be managed. Not sure if Beeton can effectively do that here....she has not demonstrated it on city council in the past.

Consensus is not about just everyone agreeing .... Consensus is a much harder thing to achieve than conflict, however, one of them gets you to reach synergy more quickly than the other which has been in a vacuum for a very long time,

Jarvis Buckley

Life on this Island is privileged Jake. It's a great place, but forever the rich folks that need the poor folks
Here to work in their Hotels, restaurants , Gardens and amusement parks , have always been in control. Unfortunately it doesn't appear it's going to change ,anytime soon.
I say pay them a decent wage, let them buy a house. Not live in public housing.
Some of the highest paid folks on this Island are law enforcement. There is a reason for that. It's called
Public housing. Very dangerous job our law officers have. We could be one of the top places in the south to live, instead we are being returned to a welfare island. The rich get richer,and the poor get
Minimum wage and free housing. Same ole same o . I'm about done.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.