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Posted on: June 5, 2020

Mayor Yarbrough announces resignation, effective July 15

Galveston Mayor Jim Yarbrough announced that he would resign as mayor, effective July 15, citing concerns related to COVID-19.

Mayor Yarbrough was first elected to the role in 2014 and was reelected in 2016 and 2018. He is term-limited from running for reelection this year in accordance with the City Charter. The next mayoral election will be held in November 2020, after the pandemic caused the May election to be postponed. Mayor Pro Tem Craig Brown will serve in the position for the remainder of Yarbrough’s term after July 15.

Mayor Yarbrough has guided the city and City Council for six years. During his tenure, the city has completed more road, water infrastructure and new facility projects than any other period during the last 50 years. The city’s financial standing is strong and there have been several improvements to make the three pensions under the city solvent and sustainable.

Mayor Yarbrough has represented Galveston and Galveston County as an elected official for nearly 30 years.

“I have enjoyed every job and every year. I want to thank my wonderful wife of forty-two years, Carol, and my two children, Ashley and Beau for their support and the sacrifices they have made to allow me to do what I have enjoyed,” Yarbrough said.  

The City of Galveston sincerely thanks Mayor Yarbrough for his leadership and many years of service to this community.

“Rarely in life do you get to have a job you truly love. Even rarer is to be able to do that job along with someone you consider to be a friend. I have had both the last six years. We will miss Jim, but the good news is he will always be one of my best friends and leaving government work won’t ever change that part of our relationship,” City Manager Brian Maxwell said.

A copy of Mayor Yarbrough’s resignation letter to the City and his fellow council members is included below.

June 3, 2020

City of Galveston

City Councilmembers

RE: Mayoral Resignation

Dear Friends:

I’ll get straight to the point. Effective July 15, 2020, I will resign as Mayor of the City of Galveston.  I have come to the conclusion that Galveston does not need a “virtual” Mayor.  It needs an active, on the job Mayor and I am unable to fulfill those requirements.  I have long lived by the philosophy that you should give every task full effort and do it right or don’t do it at all. I am going to take my own advice as I am no longer able to perform to that standard.

The City has “re-opened” and Council and Committee meetings will soon require in-person attendance. I am not in position to attend in-person meetings, meet with constituents and work hands-on with management. My health is good with one exception, I have one functioning lung. This is one of the reasons I have taken COVID-19 so seriously.  I am not in a position to fight that battle.  I do not think we are walking away from COVID-19, quite honestly, I think we are walking into it.  Regardless, it appears that major decisions dealing with this pandemic in the future will be made out of Austin not Galveston.

Some cynics and nay-sayers will say that I am doing this to help Craig Brown’s run for Mayor.  If they want to believe that, they can be wrong once again. Dr. Brown has not been consulted on this action and was just recently notified of my plans.  This decision is made in the best interest of me, my family and the City of Galveston. The July 15 date was selected to avoid a “special” election that is required by the City’s Charter. Therefore, we eliminate the chaos and the expense of another election.

I am not objective but I will venture out there and say Galveston is a better place today than it was six years ago!  We have paved more roads, completed more water projects, improved parks and built more new facilities than Galveston has seen in the last fifty years.  The City’s financial position is as strong as it has ever been. The City enjoys the highest bond rating in its long history.

We have not “kicked the can down the road” like many politicians do. We inherited three broken pension plans and today they are solvent and sustainable. We dealt with litigation straight-up. We have absorbed the CDM case and there are no contingent legal liabilities left to the City.  We have reestablished better working relationships with TXDOT, the GLO, the County and the other cities within the County.  We have brought dignity and professionalism back to City Hall.  For six years our Councils have worked with management and success was the result. These achievements are not the result of the Mayor.  It has been three different Councils, it has been good management and not just Brian Maxwell but Glywasky, Williams, Bulgherini, Buckley, Loftin, Gorman, Sanderson, Rabago and all of the staff people who operate this City.

Truth is, I would run for another term as Mayor if the Charter allowed it. While much good has been accomplished much work remains to be done.  From my perspective, there are many opportunities for continued progress.  There is no doubt; Galveston’s best days are ahead of us!!

I have represented the people of Galveston and Galveston County as an elected official for almost thirty years. I have competed in fifteen election campaigns and many of those years have been as a volunteer as the Mayor’s position has been.  I have enjoyed every job and every year.  I want to thank my wonderful wife of forty-two years, Carol, and my two children Ashley and Beau for their support and the sacrifices they have made to allow me to do what I have enjoyed.  I also want to thank my two sisters, Dana and Jan for their help and support. They have been supportive even when I was wrong. Thank you!

As Brian Maxwell and Don Glywasky remember, when I left the County Judge’s Office I cited an old country and western song by Ernest Tubb.  I thought it was appropriate then and I feel it is germane today---“Let’s Say Goodbye Like We Said Hello, In A Friendly Kind Of Way”.

Respectfully submitted,

James D. Yarbrough

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