Whether she won or lost, Lucille Kring was going to be the most fit and exhausted candidate for Anaheim City Council. For 10 weekends and some weekdays, she walked the city's neighborhoods, knocking on doors, asking residents for their votes and occasionally a glass of water or the use of their bathroom.
In the end, Kring had covered nearly 100 miles, worn through two pairs of shoes, dropped 13 pounds and collected 21,783 votes, enough for second place and a seat on Anaheim's council. The results are expected to become official Wednesday.
Kring, a former councilwoman who ran for mayor and lost to Curt Pringle in 2002, invested $110,000 of her own money and sent out five mailers during the campaign. But she said the difference -- just 205 votes over incumbent Richard Chavez -- might have been her door-to-door strategy.
"A lot of people said, 'Just because you showed up at my door, I'm going to vote for you,' " said Kring, 63, who described her canvassing as so arduous that she sometimes became disoriented and forgot where she had parked her car.
"I also think a lot of people don't like all these campaign phone calls, and they'd rather talk to someone in person."
Kring's return to the council comes at a meaningful time for Orange County's second-largest city. Civic leaders are at a crossroads over whether to continue wooing the National Football League. Debate on approving lower-cost housing in the resort district continues. And there is still plenty of second-guessing over whether it was prudent to sue the Angels baseball team for adding "Los Angeles" to its name.
After fighting so long and hard to get back on the council, Kring said, she won't be content to merely blend in with her four colleagues -- Lorri Galloway, Bob Hernandez, Harry Sidhu and Pringle, who was easily reelected mayor this month.
"I don't have any allegiances to anybody," she said. "I respect them all, but I'm sure I'll disagree with everybody on something."
Kring's independent streak helped win her the endorsement of former council members Shirley McCracken and Irv Pickler.
"I want people on council who are going to think for themselves," Pickler said. "I want independence and think she's going to be her own person."
Sidhu, whose seat was not up this year, expects Kring to be a "breath of fresh air." On the previous council, Sidhu and Hernandez tended to vote one way and Chavez, Pringle and Galloway would vote the other. Kring could emerge as a swing vote or part of a new majority with Hernandez and Sidhu.
"It's not going to be a bloc vote anymore," said Sidhu, a Republican who announced last week that he would run for state Senate in 2008. "It'll be a very transparent government from now on. I finally feel my vote will be counted."
Kring, an attorney and real estate broker who served on the council from 1998 to 2002, is a conservative Republican, like Pringle. But the two have never been exactly tight. Pringle endorsed Chavez, a liberal Democrat, this year. Kring said she didn't bother asking Pringle for an endorsement this year.
"I'm used to rejection," she said. "But when you know going in what the answer is going to be, there's no point in asking."
She plans to have lunch with Pringle this week.
"He's the mayor. He's very energetic and forward-thinking," Kring said. "He's got a vision for this city, and so do I. Sometimes they'll mesh. Sometimes they'll conflict."
Kring focused much of her campaign on quality-of-life issues: crowding, graffiti, parking, gangs. Last week, a violent Anaheim street gang was targeted with an injunction prohibiting about 90 of its members from assembling or taking part in a variety of activities in a neighborhood it has terrorized near Ponderosa Park. Police said the neighborhood had been hit by a crime wave -- including eight gang shootings, one homicide, one attempted murder and 25 assaults -- for two years.
Kring said hiring more police officers could solve many quality-of-life problems.
"The population has grown 20,000 since I last served, and we have nearly the same number of police officers now as we did then," she said. "We spent $4 million on a losing lawsuit against the Angels. Think how many police officers we could have hired for that."
Not only was Kring critical of the city's decision to sue the Angels over the name change, but she is also against subsidizing teams.
That issue could come into play next year if a city-owned 50-acre site next to Angel Stadium is chosen as the site for an NFL stadium. City officials are considering other entertainment proposals for that site.
"At this point, I think we have better options than the NFL," she said. "At first blush, it's very sexy to have an NFL team. Until you start looking at the details."
The city was home to the Rams for more than a decade, but the franchise pulled up stakes and moved to St. Louis.
Kring said she is hardly anti-sports. She believes a National Basketball Assn. team makes more sense than the NFL because the arena that an NBA team would use is the city's own: Honda Center.
Should that happen, it would "make the city some money and bring a lot of energy to the city."