Greg Schmid slipped past Dan Dykwel Tuesday with a 570-vote margin, grabbing the fourth seat on the Palo Alto City Council -- providing the only unpredicted quirk in a race marked by good sportsmanship and a lack of women candidates.
Sid Espinosa easily secured the top spot with 6,408 votes, 18 percent of the 35,566 votes counted Tuesday.
Pat Burt and Yiaway Yeh took the remaining two council seats, with 5,639 and 5,486 votes, respectively.
Eleven candidates competed for four seats on the nine-member City Council. No incumbents ran.
Dykwel didn't concede late Tuesday, pending the counting of recently submitted absentee ballots. He appeared upbeat and posed for photos with his family and friend, Espinosa.
As of Oct. 20, the last reporting deadline, Dykwel, a real estate agent and volunteer, had raised $21,200, more than Burt, Yeh and Schmid.
Schmid, a former school board member and economist, attributed his success to his focused message on land use.
Ideas, rather than money, motivated voters, he said.
"Obviously, I'm delighted with the outcome."
The order remained unchanged throughout the evening as results trickled in.
Most candidates spent the evening at the election party in the Garden Court Hotel, chatting with well-wishers, snacking and watching results projected on a large screen.
Espinosa said the shared celebration was a sign of future collaboration.
He attributed his success to an early start, a broad coalition and to careful listening.
"We went into every corner of Palo Alto," Espinosa said of his campaign. Espinosa, 35, is director of philanthropy at Hewlett Packard Corporation. He ran "because I love the city," he told interviewers Tuesday night.
Burt said he had been anxious until Saturday, but then he decided to stop worrying.
"I'm really excited," Burt said. He is a member of the city's Planning and Transportation Commissioner and a technology CEO.
At 10:20 p.m. Tuesday, although his third-place spot appeared secure, Yeh said he still had his fingers crossed.
But by 11:15, he admitted his win was "overwhelming."
"It's just been awesome," said Yeh, 29, a Gunn High School graduate who works as a public finance consultant.
Bill Ross, an attorney endorsed by the Santa Clara County Republican Party of Silicon Valley, took sixth place with 2,418 votes, nearly 7 percent. He was attending a City Council meeting in Napa for a client Tuesday and was unavailable for comment.
A non-candidate, Debbie Mytels -- Acterra associate director active in neighborhood isues -- dropped out of the race in August but still landed in seventh place, garnering 2,119 votes.
Tim Gray, a financial consultant and political newcomer, won 1,547 votes and retired technology executive "Smokey" Wallace received 1,491 votes.
Gray said Tuesday the campaign was worth it because of the example he provided for his three children and their friends.
"My kids were excited to have daddy running for office," he said.
Around 9 p.m., Wallace was heading home from a party held on his behalf at Gordon Biersch and said he wasn't sure how the race was going.
He said he plans to write an op-ed piece on the lessons he's learned as a candidate and said he plans to research how to reach the "real voters" to prepare for a potential future run for council.
"I think the city is in trouble," Wallace said.
Mark Nadim, an engineer and real estate investor, received only 1,163 votes and spent the evening at Coupa Café with friends.
Nadim didn't rule out the possibility of another shot at a council seat or other elected office and said he plans to remain involved in community affairs.
Stella Marinos, a nurse, received 840 votes.
Panhandler Victor Frost secured 659 votes. Frost, who frequents a panhandling spot across Homer Avenue from Whole Foods Market, has used his campaign as a shield against last year's extension of a "sit-lie ordinance" that restricts panhandling in the downtown area. He has not said whether he will continue to challenge the ordinance.