"I thought Green would be a sure winner," Sullivan said. "When she was out, it changed the mix."
O'Connell, who ran for the council two years ago, similarly touted his experience, saying his nonprofit work would serve him in dealing with Huntington's ongoing budget woes.
"I believe in giving back and serving the community," he said. "Now, more than ever, we need leadership because I believe the city will be experiencing major challenges in the future."
Carter, a contractor with the Huntington Beach-based door repair and installation company Doorsmith Inc., said he entered the council race out of a sense of community responsibility.
"I'm passionate about energizing our community again toward civic duties because, at the end of the day, for all we can say, we can only blame ourselves," he said.
Despite being a first-time candidate, Carter has set his sights even higher than the council: He also plans to register as a write-in candidate for president of the United States.
"Mom and dad always said we could do what we believe in," Carter said.
A pair of expected high-profile candidates opted out on the last day. Planning Commissioner Blair Farley, who ran before in 2010, did not file his paperwork to run. Green, who had declared her candidacy weeks earlier, opted out of the race due to a conflict with another elected office.
City Attorney Jennifer McGrath advised that Green, who serves on the board of the Orange County Water District, could run for both that office and the City Council but could only serve on one even if elected to both. In a statement Friday morning, Green said she had opted to stay on the water district's board.