GALVESTON — Two candidates for mayor of Galveston have asked a court to force the city to rule Jim Yarbrough ineligible to run for mayor.

Don Mafrige and Elizabeth Beeton filed a petition for a writ of mandamus on Thursday in the 1st Court of Appeals. The petition asks the court to force the city secretary to rule that Yarbrough does not meet the requirements for residency as set out in the city charter.

Responses from Yarbrough and City Secretary Janelle Williams are due Monday.

A lawyer for Mafrige and Beeton asked the city secretary two weeks ago to declare Yarbrough ineligible to run because of a homestead exemption Yarbrough had on a house in Fayette County for eight months in 2013. Beeton and Mafrige said 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. 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 a statement released the next day, the city said that because Yarbrough’s Fayette County homestead exemption was removed, it was not applicable for the entire year.

At the heart of the dispute is whether the city interpreted the charter’s residency rules correctly. Since the facts are not in dispute, the petition was filed in appellate court, rather than in state district court.

A writ of mandamus is a court order that forces a lower court, public agency or governmental body to perform a specific act it is required by law to do.

Mafrige said Saturday he expected a ruling on the petition within seven to 10 days. He said he and Beeton have not considered any further court action, should the court deny the petition.

“We have a valid argument,” he said. “We’re hoping to obtain a ruling in our favor.”

Beeton could not be reached Saturday for comment.

Yarbrough said the move was not a surprise.

“If they want to keep going down these rabbit trails, we’ll prevail,” he said. “I wouldn’t have gone through all this trouble if I didn’t think I was eligible.”

(45) comments

Ana Draa

If you don't think you can beat him at the polls...quick find another way

Jarvis Buckley

All candidates should be honest ,and play by the rules.

Ron Shelby

Typical Galveston dirty politics. Never thought those two would stoop that low. Sad they can't win on their own merits. Let galvestonians decide who's best for the city rather than get stuck with "what's left".

Doyle Beard

Mr. Shelby rules are rules and it appears there is a rules violation. Are you advocation the breaking of legal. It sure seems that way.

Ron Shelby

I don't believe he did. "Rules are rules" have already been ruled on. The other two just didn't like the answer. Bottom lline, they need to start talking about issues and qualifications now. Its all been a bunch of smoke blowing up to now.

Ellen Morrison

I believe the ruling is questionable. The small press release by the City Secretary and Ms. Palumbo really didn't say anything.

The mandamus review by the Apellate Court will decide if the City Secretary is following the Charter - in this case, the Charter Amendment that the people overwhelmingly voted for in the last election.

Of course, it appears that the Charter Amendment isn't an effective tool. Between this issue and certain D1 issues, I'd say it hasn't cleared anything up.

William Comeaux

I understand that rules are set in place for a reason, but all I see when I read this article are two candidates that don't trust the voting public enough to make their own decision. After all, the Mayor represents his/her constituents and should want what is best for them. On election day, their voices will decide who they want to represent them. I wouldn't feel I deserved to hold office if I was truly the public's second choice.

Richard Moore

The Beeton/Mafrige brain trust are giving Voters a good opportunity to see how they will act as Mayor of Galveston - and it ain't what we need!

Doyle Beard

Richard appears they want the rules enforced are you against that.

Brian Cann

Where did judge physically live during the time in question? That has yet to be answered in any of the articles I've read. I have known judge for almost 20 years, I like him, but rules are rules.
Since when is wanting your opponent to follow the law "dirty tricks"??!!
We are a nation of laws, not of men. If judge is not eligible to be mayor,then so be it, I will vote for him next time.
Richard Moore-- what does your statement mean; " see how they will act as mayor..."? Do you have an issue with following the law? If following the law "..ain't what we need", then what do we need?

Richard Moore

We need folks, both in office and voting which understand and follow the law. That being said, I am not trying to indicate that I think any one involved in this issue is not following the law.

The way the charter is being interpreted by Beeton/Mafrige is there own business. Under their interpretation, the election would have to occur on January 1st, and some one moving into the district which they want to run in on the prior January 1st, in order for the 1 year component of the criteria to be possible.

State law provides ONLY for a homestead exemption for one year, beginning in January. If you rescind the exemption during that period, and pay what you were "exempted", then you don't have an exemption. The use of the exemption in the charter is truly a bad idea.

Consider a candidate moving into a district in the April, a year before the May election who had an exemption on the residence they lived in in the adjoining district. Under the Beeton/Mafrige interpretation, they would have to wait a full 2 years (actually 3 since elections are not annual) to be eligible. Clearly not the intent of the Charter.

Mary Branum

So why is T. Woods allowed to run for District 1 when everyone knows he lives in Colony Park? None of his "properties" are Homesteaded. Yet no one says anything about this.

Was under the impression this had already been resolved. I would assume the Judge knew the rules prior to choosing to run for Mayor. I hope this all comes out in his favor.

So sick of Galveston politics and the lack of representing constituents. Most just follow their own agenda.

George Croix

What does Yarbrough himself say about it?
Do the citizens get to make up their own minds about whether to stop at a red light?
Not everyone can be POTUS and pick and choose.

Miss Priss

Beeton and Mafrige know that Yarbrough was living in Galveston. in fact they know the house that Yarbrough is living in a residence that was initially purchased in his son in law's name.

They are playing games with this to muddy the playing field. It is not the time to messed around for the sake of Galveston. I believe that Beeton is a smart, incorruptible women but I do not believe she has the DEXTERITY or the mindset to get what needs to get done at this time. The problem with all of this is that Beeton nor Mafrige understand that having conflict and effectively managing it are two different levels leadership which is completely in a vacuum in the governing of the city. The only council person that I saw on the forums who made a clear message on anything Galvestonians could benefit from is Terrilyn Tarlton. I had my doubts about her before but now I think she's the only one that gets it.

Gary Miller

The reasons he isn't county judge are the same reasons he shouldn't be COG Mayor.
Not to say Beeton or Mayfrige should be.
If "none of the above" were on the ballot it would be hard to beat.

Raymond Lewis

All of this Is pretty much a decision maker for me. Mr. Mafrige should be most concerned should Yarbrough be removed. Too bad he can't see that.

Robert Young

Yarbrough is truly experienced and Galveston needs to quit hiring mayors with no political experience.We need proven people to get real things done...He has proven he can walk the walk. The other candidates ?..Well look around. .what do you see? Abandoned property. No new business except for Tillman, potholes, trash.The only thing that has stabilized is the police Dept cause they finally have decent chief..Water dept sucks..ask Guzman!

william boney

Well, if you wondered about the true character of Mafrige and Beeton, you're witnessing it. This is just another example of "political games" by self-serving people; who wish to represent us? I'm sure that it's not just me who's asking the question, "Do we really need to elect folks, who're going to play these type games to get benefit their agenda?"

From Beeton, I expect this kind of petty, useless and needless action. i am surprised by Mafrige's participation - actually, disappointed is the better description. Strategically, an immature move from these two candidates that really smacks of desperation.

My money is on Yarbrough getting a clean bill on his residency. He has and continues to live and reside on Galveston Island full time (we all know that). To Beeton and Mafrige, this may very well be an expensive slice of "humble pie" they just purchased, and they're going to have to eat.

Doyle Beard

if as you say then why was there a homstead out of the county. Maybe to try and get tax benefits is the only conclusion one might draw from this and thats pett dogone shady.


Yarbrough has both of them scared before we even get started. That's fantastic, Jim is a great guy and is far better the right choice for Galveston. The other two would run the city into the ground. GO Yarbrough

Doyle Beard

Thats your opinion but definitely not mine. you got yours and I got mine so there goes.

Walter Manuel

I wish the city of Galveston and it's voters only the best when selecting their next mayor.

At least now everyone has a quick snap shot of the true integrity of the person that they will be voting for when they go to the polls.

Hopefully soon for Galveston's sake everyone will begin hearing about the qualifications and contributions that someone can actually bring to the table for the good of Galveston and this residency distraction can finally be laid to rest one way or the other.

Good luck Galveston voters!

Randy Reinhart

It is just very possible that Jim Yarbrough thoroughly checked the residency requirement before deciding to run for Mayor. Regardless of whether one would vote for him, lets give him the benefit of the doubt that as the former County Judge, he has experience in checking out details before making decisions.

Ms. Beeton and Mr. Mafrige certainly have the right to go to court. This is America. Hopefully all this will be settled soon and the voters will have more insights about the remaining eligible candidates.

I have certainly been educated from all of this and have made up my mind.

Bill Quiroga

Its all about special interest groups, power and money.

I cannot believe that the voters can't see that this election will not be base on the mayor at large but a collect of the others running with the same supporters to lock in the specials interest groups agenda.

Isn't most of the people running friends with or work with the M, D, K .? Are not the candidate themselves into real estate and have property in Galveston worth millions of dollars?

Divide and conquer?

Randy Reinhart

gltn_01 What is the M,D,K to which you refer? Thanks.

Steve Fouga

I doubt Mafrige or Beeton could beat Yarbrough in a straight-up contest. And I doubt a judge will decide against his candidacy, whether he's in violation of the charter or not.

So he'll probably be elected.

My sense is that he's a poor choice for Galveston, though not an egregiously bad one. I keep looking for ways he's different from the type person Galveston always tends to elect. How is he different? What changes will he make? Same ol' same ol', LOL!

My biggest fear is that he'll roll over quickly and rebuild public housing. His comment about the Island being able to easily absorb the slums (not in those exact words, of course), shows he doesn't understand how much better this place has become since they were demolished, and how crippling their return would be.

No way I could vote for Mr. Yarbrough, despite his qualifications.

Ron Shelby

Having worked for him, I can tell you, he'd be the shape up or push to clean house candidate. He can't do it alone but he's pretty darn good at building consensus. He likes things running smoothly and professional. Otherwise, you know it really quickly. I absolutely respect the guy.

Steve Fouga

Ron, I guess I respect him as a manger, too -- because of comments like yours. Being a good manager is not a bad thing, it's just not what I look for in a mayor. I want someone with a bright vision. Yarbrough comes across as a good ole boy who'll do a nice job maintaining the status quo, and rebuilding public housing.

I don't know why I get a sense that he's a hired gun, but I do. Can't put my finger on why. At least not yet...

George Croix

Is it a coincidence that the initials for same old-same old spell so-so...[wink]

“I think this is just the Republicans trying to make a big deal out of something that really doesn’t amount to anything,” Criss said.
No, wait, that was from back a couple or so years ago.
My bad.

Linda Vaccaro

When we built our house in 2004, we were not able to move into it until the 2nd or 3rd week of the following January of 2005. Since we were not residing in the house on the 1st of January of 2005, we were not able to file for the homestead exemption. So, why should Yarbrough be able to change his from one place to another? Oh, that's right, we're just ordinary folk. Not fair!

Miss Priss


He probably filed for a late exemption which is perfectly acceptable.

You probably closed too late in the year 2004 to be within the time period of being able to file a late exemption.

Linda Vaccaro

We closed on the final papers with the contractor the 2nd week in January 2005. We were not allowed to have the homestead exemption for 2005.

David Collins

I see the pro-public housing lobby is out in force again. That's why Yarbrough was asked to move back to Galveston to run. Consider that he's supported by Jaworski, Massey, Crews, Rosen, Coggeshall and Thomas. That should give every voter pause.

Evelyn Clark

So what, anybody is better than Rosen, Beeton, or Mcfrige. Stop being so mean.

Steve Fouga

mytoby, I disagree. I think Elizabeth Beeton would be better than Jim Yarbrough. This is because I disagree with you on rebuilding public housing.

You think rebuilding the housing is good for Galveston; I think it's bad.

Jim Yarbrough wants the housing to be rebuilt; Elizabeth Beeton does not. It's not exactly that simple; Mrs Beeton brings a lot of other positives, but that's enough for me. I'm voting for Elizabeth Beeton because she does not support rebuilding the tenements.

There's no way I'd vote for a pro-public-housing candidate like Jim Yarbrough, and no way you would vote against one. That's not me being mean, it's just a matter of what I want being different from what you want.

Raif Smith

I've only seen an artist drawing in the GDN. Have you seen anything, drawings, blueprints of the mixed income housing? You have called them slums, tenements. What is the basis of you using these terms?

What I saw in the GDN was neither of the terms?

Steve Fouga

raifm -- All I've seen is the same drawing you have.

I'm just reflecting the result of every instance of large complexes of public housing that I'm familiar with -- those in Houston, Dallas, Detroit, Chicago, New Orleans, Washington D.C., Los Angeles. The most pertinent examples are Galveston's.

Of course they're not slums when they're first built. It usually takes a few years for them to become run-down eyesores. But it always happens. Well, maybe not always, but in every case I'm aware of.

Raif Smith

If the mixed income housing becomes run down or full of crime, I would blame management. These are not 100% low income. Any building that is not maintained will degrade over the years.

This horse has died. Time to stop beating on it.I think it is a waste of tax payers money to take legal action. Money that could be spent on our streets, parks, etc

I think Beeton has done an excellent job representing my district However I am tired of confrontational polictics.

Let the GOGP spend their money on it.

Ana Draa

Judge Yarbrough is not in favor of tenements. He's in favor of facing the reality that land is owned by HUD and there's no way to prevent public housing from returning, so lets do it in a thoughtful mixed use way that's good for everyone.

Beeton has shown herself time and time again to be an enemy to small business in the form of short term rentals. They had a problem with 2 homes in colony park. Her solution, regulate hundreds of law abiding, neighborhood improving rentals out of existence. If that's her solution, I can only imagine how she would run this island...and it would not be good!

Steve Fouga

Well, TX, I'm in favor of fighting the rebuilding of the housing rather than caving. That's why I'm anti-Yarbrough. That, and the sneaking suspicion he's running at someone else's behest, to accomplish their agenda. And Lord knows what that might be...

No proof, just a feeling.

I'm not too worried about EB's attitude towards short-term rentals. It won't find favor among the rest of Council. Council won't do anything to harm that segment of the Island economy.

George Croix

Nothing like doing the same thing over again, hoping for a different outcome.

Steve Fouga

raifm -- First, don't let my distaste for public housing stop you from supporting Elizabeth Beeton. She HAS done an excellent job for her district, and she would be a top-notch mayor!

Second, as far as I know, no taxpayer money is being spent on any public housing lawsuit. I believe it's funded privately.

Finally, if the housing becomes run-down, I'll blame both the residents and the management. I wish it weren't true, but public housing tends to become run down. It makes the city less pleasant and attracts crime -- and those are really the only reasons I'm against rebuilding it. Still, there's nothing wrong with a difference of opinion. You support public housing, and I don't.

Ellen Morrison

Let me enlighten you, Jake. If the housing becomes run-down, the fault lies squarely with the US government.

HUD housing is built without maintenance accounted for in the budget. One of those tricky accounting deals. They can build them, but then any maintenance has to be scrabbled for and cobbled together by the management - until HUD comes swooping down with some found money... usually because of complaints, or as a reward of some sort.

Up until rather recently, I was a knee-jerk liberal. Watching the political machinations behind the public housing rebuild here on the island, I can now say I am not. I don't know what I am, but I am disgusted by the machine.

JY is a decent-sized cog in the machine, in this case, the Democratic machine. He ran the county for many years while it was a blue county. Before Ike, I would have voted for him on his party line (maybe I did, I don't recall). Nowadays, no way.

Elizabeth Beeton is truly independent and votes in a manner that she feels serves the best interests of her constituents - and the island residents as a whole. I don't think that can be said of any other mayoral candidate. There is one that is answering to God (and those angels), one that is answering to the machine, one that is development-driven and then there is Elizabeth Beeton.

Steve Fouga

Funny, I didn't know Yarbrough's a Democrat. I didn't realize a Democrat was allowed to run so much as bait shop or filling station in this county.

I pay less attention to party affiliation and more to what they say anyway. And their experience.

Really, Yarbrough's a Democrat? Son of a gun!

George Croix

Possible. That would be a condition reached over some years as a result of normal use with little or no upkeep, OR possible faulty construction left uncorrected in some few cases.
Torn up/trashed/abused?
Likely, if history is any indicator. That would be a condition reached rather quickly as a result of not giving a darn about something you have less than a full share of investment in, and a geenral attitude that you don't HAVE to take care of the place.
The government should provide routine or needed maintenance, imho, just like we do in our own homes. But they should not have to use taxapyer money to clean up and fix up trashed property. They should throw the bums who do it out on their ear, and remove them from EVER again having access to subsidized housing at taxpayer expense.
Again, imho, it's not the governments fault when low character people choose to act like it, exxcept maybe from a dearth of adequate vetting processes to prevent such ever getting into the housing in the first place.

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