It was a clear victory for Don Fletcher, who beat Jill Cincotta for City Commission Seat 1 in Tuesday's election.
Fletcher, 38, captured 1,529 votes, or 62 percent, to Cincotta's 932, or 37 percent. Theirs was considered the most hotly contested race in this year's election.
Fletcher said he was not surprised that he won.
"I feel great. I'm really pleased," he said. "People were really sick of the kind of campaign (Cincotta) wanted to run."
Incumbent Pamela Corbino retained Seat 2, easily besting newcomer Paul Marron. Corbino received 1,709 votes, or 70 percent, while Marron captured 730 votes, or 30 percent.
"I'm excited that I won, and by a good margin, but I'm disappointed that Jill didn't win, and I think that had a lot to do with what (the Times) did," Corbino said.
The Times reported on Cincotta's 1985 felony shoplifting arrest, and also on how she asked Bill Rupp to drop out of the race for Seat 3 so Fran Barnhisel would win.
He didn't drop out, but in the three-way race for Seat 3, Barnhisel won with 1,248 votes, or 50 percent. Sandy Huff came in second with 682 votes, and Rupp finished last with 527.
An exhausted but happy Barnhisel attributed her win to good planning. "I didn't win by myself. I had a lot fo hard-working people on my side," she said.
"I worked very hard and planned this for a long time, and I think people realized that."
More than 2,500 of the city's 9,621 registered voters cast ballots.
Fletcher, a 38-year-old Safety Harbor native, is the president of Florida Dredge and Dock, a family-owned business.
Cincotta, who is active in downtown redevelopment efforts, included among her campaign issues streamlining the budget without reducing services. Fletcher took an opposite stance from Cincotta concerning downtown redevelopment, saying that some of the money set aside for the project should be used for infrastructure improvements instead.
Corbino, 45, was the only incumbent among the candidates. She first was elected in 1992, a surprise winner over Commissioner George Costage. Marron, 38, was making his first run at elected office.
Barnhisel, 50, is a retired nurse who manages her husband's downtown dental office. She said running the city in a more businesslike manner would improve finances. Barnhisel also is active in downtown redevelopment efforts.