Shaun McCaffery, a mechanical engineer making his second try in two years for a Healdsburg City Council seat, appeared on his way to victory Tuesday night, followed by incumbents Tom Chambers and Gary Plass.
McCaffery had 25 percent of the vote, Chambers 23.5 percent and Plass 23 percent.
With three council seats up for grabs, the trailing candidates were Tim Meinken and Vern Simmons, both with 11 percent, and Dennis J. Brown with 6 percent.
McCaffery credited a wide spectrum of endorsements plus "hard work and shoe leather, and a really good group of friends that helped me pass literature around to people."
Meanwhile Measure V was ahead, with 54 percent in favor and 46 percent against. It called for a half-cent sales tax hike to bolster the city's general fund by $1 million annually for 10 years.
"I'd rather have services than an extra half-cent in my pocket," said Gordon Smith, 27, a wine cellar worker who voted for Measure V.
"You can't run a government without taxes," retiree Shannon Wren said of her reason for voting for the sales tax increase.
It will raise the sales tax from 8 to 8.5 percent, on par with a number of other cities in Sonoma County.
Balancing the budget and long-term budget stability were the overriding priorities cited by the candidates during the campaign, along with economic development. Pension overhaul also was an issue.
Plass and Chambers said they have made inroads by instituting less generous retirement packages for new employees and getting current workers to pay more toward their pension programs.