The stage for the 2009 election was set when incumbent Democratic mayor Kathy Taylor opted not to seek reelection. The primary election, held on September 8, 2009, resulted in the selection of state senator Tom Adelson as the Democratic nominee and Bartlett, a former councilman, as the Republican. This led to a rematch of the 2004 state senate election in which Adelson defeated Bartlett. Two independents were also on the ballot. Polling conducted a week before the primary gave Bartlett about a 10-point head-to-head lead over Adelson; and polling the week before the general election, which also included the independent candidates, showed an 8-point lead for Bartlett.
In the November 10 general election, Bartlett received about 45% of the vote to Adelson's 36% and 18% for independent Mark Perkins. Adelson conceded early in the evening as the results became apparent. Bartlett took office on December 7, 2009.