After a contentious mayoral race filled with allegations and scrutiny for some candidates, Marlin has a new mayor.

Out of three candidates, John Keefer came out on top Saturday with 365 votes, while local pastor Demetrius Beachum, who became the talk of the town after a local news station brought to light his criminal history, brought in 133 votes. The third candidate, resident and volunteer Shirley King, earned 153 votes, Marlin City Secretary Sandra Herring said.

Keefer is a first-time politician. He owns Progressive Insurance in Marlin and has lived in the city for 18 months.

Earlier this spring, he said he wants to unite the community with a sense of collaboration. A small town of 6,000, Marlin has had its fair share of financial struggles, and its biggest business, Marlin Independent School District, has been threatened with closure after failing state academic accountability ratings five years in a row.

But Keefer said he knows the city has no control over or ability to govern what happens within the school district. Instead, he wants to take a business-minded approach to Marlin as someone who owns more than seven insurance companies across the state, he said earlier this year.

As a business owner, his ability to look at financials and crunch numbers could be the leg up the city needs, he said.

“People say it’s very petty, but the biggest issue Marlin faces is communication,” Keefer said in April. “Communication drives everything. It drives everything. Nothing works.”

Depending on who you talk to, the biggest point of contention with Marlin residents is either racial tension, feeling they’ve been left behind or the neglect of infrastructure in the town, including washed out roadways, abundant potholes, overgrown lots and more, Keefer said.

To start, he wants to have consistent public forums outside city council meetings and throughout the city, to learn what residents truly want their city to be like, he said.

“Thank you Marlin. I will not let you down,” he posted to the “Marlin, Texas – Current Events, News and Views” Facebook page after the election.

The city also had two city council elections, for the Precinct 1 seat and Precinct 3 seat. For Precinct 1, Susan Byrd won with 145 votes against, and for Precinct 3, Terence McDavid won with 72 votes.

Voters also approved an amendment that will prohibit members of the city council from serving more than two consecutive two-year terms. The vote passed 501 to 88.

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