Voters have rejected plans for an elected mayor in Bath and North East Somerset with a 79% no vote.
Thursday's referendum saw 30,557 votes to retain the cabinet system and 8,054 in favour of a directly-elected mayor. The turnout was 29%.
Council leader Tim Warren said the result showed people were "happy-ish with what they have ".
Philip Raby, who campaigned for a mayor, said it had been a "David and Goliath" fight.
He told BBC Radio Bristol: "Obviously I would have liked more than 8,000 votes, but I am really appreciative that 8,000 people thought they would vote for us.
"I don't want to sound 'sour grapes', but the fact is they did have things that we didn't have in terms of resources and their campaign was negative."
The referendum was triggered when a petition launched last year secured 6,437 signatures - hitting the 5% threshold required for it to go ahead.
But the move was opposed by the main parties on Bath and North East Somerset Council, as well as local Conservative MPs Ben Howlett and Jacob Rees-Mogg.
The outcome was welcomed by the ruling Conservatives.
Council leader Tim Warren told BBC Radio Bristol he was "very pleased with the result".
He said: "It just showed that the public are happy-ish, we know we are not perfect, but they are happy-ish with what they have and realised the system is as good as you are going to get, for now."
Directly elected mayors were created by the Local Government Act 2000.
When 10 cities held referendums on whether to introduce one in 2012, only Bristol voted in favour.