ALAMEDA -- Name recognition and a history of community activism paid off for Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft and Tony Daysog on Tuesday when they captured the two open City Council seats.

"I am just so grateful to the voters of Alameda," Ashcraft said. "But I also had a wonderful army of volunteers."

She was echoed by Daysog, who will return to City Hall after previously serving on the council from 1996 to 2006. "I can't say enough how thankful I am," Daysog said.

Ashcraft secured about 25 percent of the vote, and Daysog got about 18 percent. Stewart Chen came just behind Daysog with about 17 percent. As the third top vote-getter, Chen may still get elected if Vice Mayor Rob Bonta wins his state Assembly campaign, which in turn would open up his council seat.

On election night, Ashcraft, Daysog and Chen were on top immediately after the polls closed -- when the Alameda County Registrar of Voters released the results of mail-in ballots -- and stayed there until the final votes from all 45 precincts were tallied.

Getting out and meeting the public was a key to her victory, Ashcraft said, especially during a national election when voters must sort through a host of candidates and ballot measures.

"Most people seemed genuinely pleased and touched to have a candidate come to their door," said Ashcraft, who currently serves on the Planning Board.

Her history as a campaigner to build the main branch of the Alameda Free Library also helped, Ashcraft said.

Daysog admitted he was a little surprised that his low-key campaign resonated with voters. It consisted of a single-mailer, lawn signs, a handful of local newspaper ads and going door-to-door.

"I wasn't sure that it would be enough in these days of basically a months-long campaign for the City Council," Daysog said.

As with Ashcraft, Daysog found pounding the pavement drummed up votes.

"I could tell people still remembered me and that I was generally known by the public," he said. "There was still that positive feeling. But you also worry that the people who have met you on their doorstep on a July afternoon will not remember your name in November."

In all, three women and four men made a bid for the council seats currently held by Doug de Haan and Beverly Johnson.

De Haan could not seek re-election because he has been termed out.

Johnson quit the council race after Gov. Jerry Brown appointed her deputy director at the state Office of Administrative Law, saying the time commitment required by the job would prevent her from working effectively on the council.

Along with Ashcraft, Daysog and Chen, the other candidates were Jeff Cambra, Gerald Valbuena Dumuk, Jane Sullwold and Joana Weber.

While name recognition and community ties worked on election night for Ashcraft and Daysog, it was not enough to get Sullwold and Cambra elected.

As a member of the city's Golf Commission, Sullwold played a leading role in the successful effort to prevent the council from swapping a portion of the Chuck Corica Golf Complex for another property with a developer -- a fight that garnered widespread public support.

As a 25-year Alameda resident, Cambra has been involved with more than 15 community organizations, including the League of Women Voters of Alameda, the West Alameda Business Association and the Alameda Chamber of Commerce.

Both Sullwold and Cambra were making their first bids for an elected Alameda office. The other candidates were all newcomers to local politics.

An attorney and arbitrator, the 60-year-old Ashcraft has served on the city's Economic Development Commission and on the board of Alameda Hospital.

Daysog's background includes stints on the city's Fiscal Sustainability Committee and on the Economic Development Commission.

Daysog, 46, works as an urban planner and holds a master's degree in city planning from UC Berkeley.

Chen said he was prepared to serve Alameda citizens.

"I want to be someone who represents the entire city of Alameda," Chen said on Wednesday. "I don't want to be someone who only represents one group or one segment of our community."

Preliminary results in the race for the state Assembly's 18th District showed Bonta narrowly in front of fellow Democrat Abel Guillen, clearing the way for Chen to take Bonta's council seat.

But in such a tight race -- Bonta secured about 51 percent, Guillen about 49 percent -- the outcome could change because the Alameda County Registrar of Voters reported Wednesday that 140,000 ballots, including provisional ballots, had yet to be counted.

If he captures Bonta's seat, Chen said he will visit every city department -- police, public works, firefighters -- over the next few weeks to get a better understanding of the issues facing the city and its residents.

The 50-year-old Chen has served two terms on the Social Service and Human Relations Board, as well as on Alameda County's Human Relations Commission. He was elected to the Alameda Hospital board in November 2010.

The city faces financial and other challenges, Ashcraft said. But she also said she believes most residents will work to preserve the qualities that make Alameda a unique place to live.

"The next few years are going to be busy for everyone on the council," Ashcraft said. "There's a lot of work to do from one end of the Island to the other. But we must always put our residents and our businesses first."

Reach Peter Hegarty at 510-748-1654 or follow him on Twitter.com/Peter_Hegarty/.

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