Paso Robles Mayor Duane Picanco jumped to an early lead Tuesday, but ballots were slow to come in to county elections officials for counting.
Trailing Picanco was Gary Nemeth, who lost the mayoral seat in 2008 to Picanco by just 41 votes.
“I’m hopeful to be the next mayor of Paso Robles, and with one precinct, you just don’t know,” Nemeth said.
Calls to Picanco and Gibson were not immediately returned.
Mayoral candidate Mike Gibson followed behind Nemeth.
Voters also seemed to favor re-electing City Council incumbents John Hamon and Ed Steinbeck to the two available seats on the five-member council.
A third council candidate, Greg Rachunok, fell behind the two incumbents initially.
The down economy influenced both the City Council and mayoral races.
Nemeth, a retired San Luis Obispo police officer, campaigned to change the attitude of the city, saying that the council should be positive and welcoming to applicants.
Picanco, a retired shoe shop owner, plans to limit spending to help balance the budget and improve downtown parking.
Steinbeck pledged to look for ways to make speaking at council meetings less intimidating, promising to listen to facts and public concern before making decisions.
In his campaign, Hamon vowed to take budget matters head-on and not fall back on using funds from city reserves.
Rachunok said he’d look at new ways the city can make money.
Among the issues facing the new City Council and mayor is a controversial plan to raise rates to pay for Paso Robles’ share of the Nacimiento Water Project.
In the coming months, the council will have to decide whether to appeal a San Luis Obispo County Superior Court ruling in October saying the city needs to better describe why the increase is needed.