ANCHORAGE -

Anyone inside Election Central at the Dena'ina Center on Tuesday evening could sense the way the most hotly-contested race of the municipal election was going right around 10 p.m.

That is when Pete Petersen, who opposes incumbent District 5 Assemblyman Adam Trombley, made his way into the conference room.

The former Democratic state representative was flanked by a dozen sign-waving, slogan-chanting supporters: "On the East Side we say with pride, Pete Petersen is on your side," the group repeated several times, mimicking the tagline of a radio ad that aired across Anchorage during the weeks leading to the April 1 contest.

Behind the enthusiasm were early numbers suggesting that Petersen slightly edged out Trombley, a conservative, and political newcomer Mao Tosi.

With 24 of 26 East Anchorage precincts reporting by midnight, Petersen received 42 percent of the vote to Trombley's 37.4 and Tosi's 20.4.

But with just 336 votes separating Petersen from the incumbent, the race is far from over.

According to the municipal clerk, an estimated 3,200 in-person absentee votes were cast leading to Election Day, plus another 2,800 mail absentee ballots were mailed. Locations around town including the Loussac Library also allowed people to vote on Election Day outside of their district via in-person absentee ballots.

A winner cannot be officially called until canvass, when a final tally of votes is calculated 10 days after the election, but if the numbers hold up it could sway the Assembly from conservative- to liberal-leaning.

"There’s been a 6-5 split, and now that’s going to reverse," said Assemblyman Dick Traini, who was not up for re-election.

The East Anchorage race is not the only tight contest.

Bruce Dougherty, Bill Evans and Pete Nolan seek the South Anchorage seat vacated by term-limited Chris Birch. The early count has Evans leading Nolan by 212 votes.

Evans said he is confident even with a tight race because he believes the outstanding precincts and absentee ballots will be fairly similar to those already counted.

“South Anchorage is a fairly homogenous district, fairly even across the board, so we’re liking what we see,” he said.

Aside from the most contested races, the incumbent District 1 Assemblyman Patrick Flynn, who represents downtown, coasted to a victory over Mark Martinson. Flynn received 73 percent of the vote by the early count, Martinson received 25 percent.

Assemblyman Bill Starr represents District 2, composed of Eagle River, Chugiak and the edge of East Anchorage. He appears to have convincingly won a third and final term over Sharon Gibbons, a first-time candidate.

Tim Steele, who was first elected last year to fill out the remainder of a term, is leading Phil Isley 67 percent to 32 percent. If the numbers hold, Steele will again represent Spenard and West Anchorage on the Assembly.

Midtown Assemblywoman Elvi Gray-Jackson was unopposed.

Elvi Gray-Jackson, who represents Midtown on the Assembly, ran unopposed and coasted to a third term.

Channel 2's Chris Klint contributed to this story