Neighborhood leader Kathleen Ford and populist organizer Pat Fulton both had strong showings Tuesday.
The two women defeated Dan Driscoll, an independent-minded former businessman, for the right to succeed retiring City Council Chairman Edward Cole.
Ford was the top vote-getter, and Fulton was 309 votes behind.
The race has provided voters with an interesting contrast of philosophies.
As a leader and former president of the North Shore Neighborhood Association, Ford was a prime mover in the drive for stricter code enforcements and other neighborhood improvement measures. Driscoll thought many of the association's efforts were overbearing. Fulton, a grass-roots organizer in her own right, sidestepped any criticism of the neighborhood association. She said Ford came across like an elitist, out of touch with most residents.
For example, Fulton gleefully seized on a newspaper story that quoted Ford saying that the Old Northeast needed upgrading to "buffer" Snell Isle against lower-income neighborhoods.
Tuesday evening, Fulton seemed poised to keep up that charge in the broader general election.
"I think the kind of work that I've done for the past six years has touched a lot of areas of the city which she never touched," Fulton, 56, said. "She ran first in her stronghold, on a particular issue. But the city is much, much bigger than North Shore."
Ford, who raised far more money than either of her opponents, said she was displeased by how she came across in a Times story Sunday. However, she said Tuesday's results reassured her that many people have understood her message.
"I think fiscal responsibility is important," Ford, 39, said. "I also think neighborhood involvement is important. When citizens feel they can have an impact in their community through the neighborhood planning process, they feel good, and it looks better.
"I think it's important that the city realize that I have the whole city's interest at heart, both the business and residential communities, and that for all of us to prosper, we need to look at the adjacent commercial areas."
Driscoll, 43, said he was not surprised at the outcome.
"I provided the opportunity for people to elect a person with a strong business background," he said.