HAYWARD -- With most of the votes counted, Councilwoman Barbara Halliday appeared headed for victory in the Hayward mayoral race Tuesday night.

In the City Council election, incumbent Marvin Peixoto and Sara Lamnin were comfortably leading a field of seven candidates seeking two Hayward council spots.

Halliday was one of three City Council members who ran for the office being vacated by Mayor Michael Sweeney, who is retiring from politics. A political newcomer also sought the office.

She campaigned on her experience; she has served on city commissions since 1990 and was first elected to the council in 2004. Her four-year council term expires in 2016. The council will appoint someone to fill the rest of her council term if she takes over as mayor in July.

Councilman Mark Salinas was second and Councilman Francisco Zermeno was third in early results in the mayoral contest.

Salinas gave up his council seat to run for mayor. Zermeno has served on the council since 2008, and his term also expires in 2016, so he will continue in office if Halliday maintains her lead.

Rakesh Kumar Christian was the fourth mayoral candidate and trailed in the vote tally.

Peixoto was first elected to the seven-member council in 2010. He was leading in the vote count, followed closely by Lamnin.

Lamnin serves on the city's Planning Commission. Trailing behind Lamnin were former AC Transit director Ryan "Rocky" Fernandez, former Planning Commissioner Julie McKillop, city Planning Commissioner Rodney Loche, Ralph Farias and Phillip Gallegos.

The incoming council faces challenges. Hayward's deficit is growing, and its employee benefit costs are going up. To help rein in those costs, the city sought a 17 percent reduction in its workers' total compensation, including wages and benefits. After SEIU Local 1021 did not agree to the cuts, saying its maintenance and clerical workers could not afford them, the City Council imposed the reduction. The union poured more than $80,000 into the race, supporting Lamnin and Fernandez.

Hayward is beginning to recover from the recession, but many storefronts remain empty.

Contact Rebecca Parr at 510-293-2473 or follow her at Twitter.com/rdparr1.