Salem Councilor at Large candidates

The candidates for At-Large Councilor in Salem, clockwise from top left: Melissa Faulkner, Ty Hapworth, Elaine Milo, Gary Gill, Alice Merkl, Arthur Sargent, George McCabe, Maribel Steadman, Conrad Prosniewski, Jeff Cohen and Domingo Dominguez.

SALEM — Below are capsule profiles for the 11 candidates running for four at-large seats on the Salem City Council. A preliminary election Tuesday, Sept. 17, will narrow the field to the top eight vote-getters, who will advance to the general election on Nov. 5.

On Tuesday, preliminary contests will also be decided by Ward 3 and Ward 6 voters, as well as in the Salem School Committee race.

The candidates

Jeff Cohen

Jeff Cohen

Jeff Cohen

Address: 12 Hancock St.

Age: 63

Profession: Business development manager

Family: Wife Flora Tonthat

Previous elected office: None

Why did you want to run at-large instead of in your ward?

As Co/Vice Chair/board member of NP4H, SERC, Salem for All Ages and Project Out, I’m focused on issues that affect all residents of Salem and support Josh Turiel (Ward 5).

What is the most pressing issue facing the city and its residents, and how would you resolve it?

Housing, but also climate crisis. Will propose resiliency zoning, increased minimum standards for efficiency and sustainability for new buildings/retrofits, significant tree funding and hold NGRID accountable for gas leaks.

One of the biggest issues facing Salem right now is the housing crisis. If you had a magic wand, how would you solve this issue?

No wand needed, will propose tiered/on-site inclusionary zoning, more expansive/less limited ADU regulations, condo regulations to decelerate gentrification and tenant rights, including minimum notice and advocacy/education. Salem is changing in ways that exclude people with lower incomes, those that work here should be able to live here.

A major project on the horizon is the redevelopment of Footprint Power’s 40-plus acres of undeveloped land. What’s your vision for the use of that land?

A renewable energy facility with DC converter between off shore wind farms and the grid, large scale energy storage facility, high tech incubation center, open space and smart development.

The debate about a Haunted Happenings carnival has split much of the city. Is a carnival necessary for the final two weeks of Halloween? If so, where would you put it? If not, how do you replace it?

Although the police requested the carnival to reduce issues, we will need an adequate plan for 2019 focusing more on children activities and live music.

Domingo Dominguez

Domingo Dominguez

Domingo Dominguez

Address: 18 Raymond Road

Age: 55

Profession: Regional Sales Manager, IDT Corp.

Family: Wife Belkis; children Genesis, Ezequiel, Janice, Joel, Noel, Debora and Lucas

Previous elected office: Councilor At-Large, 2018-19

Why did you want to run at-large instead of in your ward?

I chose to run at-large because I want to be able to hear from and represent all of Salem.

What is the most pressing issue facing the city and its residents, and how would you resolve it?

Housing. I propose we develop a long-term plan by bringing together the community, private sector, Salem Housing Authority, and local, state and federal government to make that plan.

One of the biggest issues facing Salem right now is the housing crisis. If you had a magic wand, how would you solve this issue?

We need a flexible-enough plan for developers to provide new housing options but firm enough to not displace current residents, to be transparent and inform the community about what’s happening and why, and use housing formulas, including low-income projects, mixed housing projects and housing for seniors and our veterans.

A major project on the horizon is the redevelopment of Footprint Power’s 40-plus acres of undeveloped land. What’s your vision for the use of that land?

My vision is to continue working with the city to make more people aware of the development so we can make a decision that everyone agrees with or understands.

The debate about a Haunted Happenings carnival has split much of the city. Is a carnival necessary for the final two weeks of Halloween? If so, where would you put it? If not, how do you replace it?

It’s part of Salem culture and should be more inclusive. I propose using Palmer Cove and shuttle systems to transport visitors during the busiest weeks.

Melissa Faulkner

Melissa Faulkner

Melissa Faulkner

Address: 209 North St., Unit 1

Age: 43

Profession: Professional driving school instructor, paraprofessional

Family: Husband Mike; children Tyler, Mikey, William Edward, Kadin, Jeremiah Paul, Joshua Josiah and Judah Daniel

Previous elected office: None

Why did you want to run at-large instead of in your ward?

A voice like mine is needed at City Hall. I seek to work in collaboration with all seven wards and its constituents. I have what it takes to lead.

What is the most pressing issue facing the city and its residents, and how would you resolve it?

Accessible and affordable housing for all. I will speak up and advocate for changes currently being proposed making sure they met the needs of Salem as a whole.

One of the biggest issues facing Salem right now is the housing crisis. If you had a magic wand, how would you solve this issue?

I’d change outdated zoning laws and embrace a diverse culture of housing amongst everyone. Housing is a human need! We must and can do better to provide for the elderly, veterans, working class and families. No more excuses. Let’s get this done. In the words of Lisa Peterson, “Think big!”

A major project on the horizon is the redevelopment of Footprint Power’s 40-plus acres of undeveloped land. What’s your vision for the use of that land?

I would seek an assessment and evaluation in hopes of developing another community filled with culture, diversity, business and of course accessible and affordable housing.

The debate about a Haunted Happenings carnival has split much of the city. Is a carnival necessary for the final two weeks of Halloween? If so, where would you put it? If not, how do you replace it?

I would seek input from the constituents and business owners of Salem as a whole to assess how best to proceed.

Gary Gill

Gary Gill

Gary “Gigi” Gill

Address: 12 Pope St., Unit B601

Age: 59

Profession: Currently not employed

Family: Late husband Robert “Jimmy” Webb

Previous elected office: None

Why did you want to run at-large instead of in your ward?

I’ve been living here since 1982 and the many issues I want to tackle are citywide and not exclusive to my ward.

What is the most pressing issue facing the city and its residents, and how would you resolve it?

Salem needs to develop a long-term plan to create partnerships with new and emerging industries to bring jobs with living wages and ensure our economy is diversified beyond tourism.

One of the biggest issues facing Salem right now is the housing crisis. If you had a magic wand, how would you solve this issue?

The Salem housing crisis involves an interplay of residential, municipal, and commercial concerns. We need smart residential development that preserves the look of Salem, considers impact on city services, ensures residential tax rates go down, while developing ordinances that authorize Salem to get the best deal for residents from developers.

A major project on the horizon is the redevelopment of Footprint Power’s 40-plus acres of undeveloped land. What’s your vision for the use of that land?

This oceanfront location creates a unique opportunity to develop a mixed-use property that combines a public space, boat dock, and scientific experiments with public education on climate change.

The debate about a Haunted Happenings carnival has split much of the city. Is a carnival necessary for the final two weeks of Halloween? If so, where would you put it? If not, how do you replace it?

Entertainment is necessary but a traditional carnival is outdated and not on trend with the latest Halloween activities that cause less disturbance to residents.

Ty Hapworth

Ty Hapworth

Ty Hapworth

Address: 6 Brown St.

Age: 36

Profession: Commercial executive at Microsoft

Family: Wife Micah, children Harrison and Sylvia

Previous elected office: None

Why did you want to run at-large instead of in your ward?

My concerns extend beyond my ward. I’m running to fight for a Salem that works for everyone. Every income level, age, background and neighborhood.

What is the most pressing issue facing the city and its residents, and how would you resolve it?

Our response to the pace of development. Any new development should build stronger, healthier neighborhoods without dominating them, contribute to historic character, and provide a diverse array of transit options.

One of the biggest issues facing Salem right now is the housing crisis. If you had a magic wand, how would you solve this issue?

We must address the housing crisis through a variety of initiatives, including ADUs, inclusionary zoning and the adaptive reuse of our vacant municipal and religious buildings. We must build on our housing stock only where it makes the most sense, while also being mindful to address serious income inequality.

A major project on the horizon is the redevelopment of Footprint Power’s 40-plus acres of undeveloped land. What’s your vision for the use of that land?

There must first be communication with the neighbors in this area. Ideally, there would be public access to Salem’s waterfront and include commercial space that could provide higher tax revenue.

The debate about a Haunted Happenings carnival has split much of the city. Is a carnival necessary for the final two weeks of Halloween? If so, where would you put it? If not, how do you replace it?

In October we should highlight our history, artists and local businesses. I would prefer to encourage people not to treat Salem as a carnival.

George McCabe

George McCabe

George McCabe

Address: 11D Russell Drive

Age: 61

Profession: President, North Shore Bartending Services, Inc.

Family: Wife Lisa, daughter Erin

Previous elected office: City Council, 1985-96

Why did you want to run at-large instead of in your ward?

Twelve years as a former councilor and 14 years as a congressional aide makes me better suited for a councilor-at-large position.

What is the most pressing issue facing the city and its residents, and how would you resolve it?

Transportation. I’m a big proponent of a South Salem train platform near SSU. The hospital and SSU can shuttle people from there. All alternative transportation forms should be explored.

One of the biggest issues facing Salem right now is the housing crisis. If you had a magic wand, how would you solve this issue?

If I had a magic wand, I’d rehab every Salem Housing Authority unit and add 300-500 new units of senior housing. The proposals before the City Council are not unreasonable. I would support them, but they won’t produce many affordable units. Parkland should absolutely be off-limits to housing.

A major project on the horizon is the redevelopment of Footprint Power’s 40-plus acres of undeveloped land. What’s your vision for the use of that land?

The intent was, and I presume still is, marketing the property as commercial space for marine-related business. A mix of commercial and industrial business would be ideal.

The debate about a Haunted Happenings carnival has split much of the city. Is a carnival necessary for the final two weeks of Halloween? If so, where would you put it? If not, how do you replace it?

It makes the event family-friendly but without a location, family-friendly acts at various stages downtown or game booths could replace it.

Alice Merkl

Alice Merkl

Alice Merkl

Address: 28A Federal St., Unit 2

Age: 56

Profession: Teacher at the Marblehead/Salem School of Music

Family: Husband Barry, daughter Brenda

Previous elected office: None

Why did you want to run at-large instead of in your ward?

I’m running at-large because most of my community volunteer work — such as food insecurity programs, seniors, city cleanup efforts, etc — is citywide.

What is the most pressing issue facing the city and its residents, and how would you resolve it?

The challenge for many is keeping a roof over their heads, and there’s no one solution. I am committed to implementing the tools/ideas at our disposal.

One of the biggest issues facing Salem right now is the housing crisis. If you had a magic wand, how would you solve this issue?

Work on real, achievable housing solutions while prioritizing common sense, thoughtful development that preserves the historical, inclusive character of Salem. We need to implement the ordinances currently before the council, also work with the NSCDC and Harborlight, utilize CPA, CDBG and HOME funds, and all state and federal resources available.

A major project on the horizon is the redevelopment of Footprint Power’s 40-plus acres of undeveloped land. What’s your vision for the use of that land?

We need to be an active, involved partner in development. My priority will be to communicate with the surrounding residents regarding their vision/concerns, and address the overall impact.

The debate about a Haunted Happenings carnival has split much of the city. Is a carnival necessary for the final two weeks of Halloween? If so, where would you put it? If not, how do you replace it?

I would like the city to pursue other family-friendly entertainment ideas to assist in managing our crowds, and not have the carnival.

Elaine Milo

Elaine Milo

Elaine Milo

Address: 181 Marlborough Road

Age: 63

Profession: Administrator, Salem State University

Family: Husband Frank, daughter Danielle

Previous elected office: Councilor At-Large, 2014-19

Why did you want to run at-large instead of in your ward?

Serving at-large allows me to examine issues through a big picture lens, deciding what is best for the whole city versus a neighborhood.

What is the most pressing issue facing the city and its residents, and how would you resolve it?

Schools, and the need for more businesses and commercial economic development to supplement the tax base, encourage business development through granting of Tax Incentive Financing, which will encourage job growth.

One of the biggest issues facing Salem right now is the housing crisis. If you had a magic wand, how would you solve this issue?

Absent going back in time and righting the wrongs that brought us here, we need to approach this as a regional issue and holistically, not in piecemeal fashion. We need a plan that tells us where we are going and metrics to measure if we have achieved our goal.

A major project on the horizon is the redevelopment of Footprint Power’s 40-plus acres of undeveloped land. What’s your vision for the use of that land?

Whatever we do, we will need to consider the Designated Port Area. I would be most excited to see public access to the waterfront and open space.

The debate about a Haunted Happenings carnival has split much of the city. Is a carnival necessary for the final two weeks of Halloween? If so, where would you put it? If not, how do you replace it?

There is no good data telling us the carnival is necessary or a replacement is warranted. It served its purpose initially. Haunted Happenings has changed.

Conrad Prosniewski

Conrad Prosniewski

Conrad Prosniewski

Address: 9 Shore Ave.

Age: 65

Profession: Retired police captain

Family: Wife Julie, children Michael and Kristina

Previous elected office: None

Why did you want to run at-large instead of in your ward?

After over 40 years in public service, and helping to improve life for all our residents and the community, I simply want to continue serving our entire population.

What is the most pressing issue facing the city and its residents, and how would you resolve it?

The pressing issue is how this city will grow while maintaining its culture, identity and affordability. It will take all of us working together to shape our future.

One of the biggest issues facing Salem right now is the housing crisis. If you had a magic wand, how would you solve this issue?

I believe that affordable housing is all about housing diversity, and adapting it to our diverse culture. In order to prosper we must grow in a manner to reflect the diverse needs of our community, which means developing properties that affordably house those who help our community grow.

A major project on the horizon is the redevelopment of Footprint Power’s 40-plus acres of undeveloped land. What’s your vision for the use of that land?

No doubt that our waterfront is underutilized and has enormous potential. The property adjacent to Blaney Street should be a showcase for our residents and for those visiting by sea.

The debate about a Haunted Happenings carnival has split much of the city. Is a carnival necessary for the final two weeks of Halloween? If so, where would you put it? If not, how do you replace it?

Family attractions, not necessarily a carnival, provide visitors options which facilitate their movement, a strategic element from a public safety perspective.

Arthur Sargent

Arthur Sargent

Arthur Sargent

Address: 8 Maple Ave.

Age: 62

Family: Wife Kathleen; children Patrick, Amy and Eric

Profession: Instrumentation Technician, Massachusetts Water Resource Authority at their Deer Island Facility

Previous elected office: Councilor At-Large, 2000-19

Why did you want to run at-large instead of in your ward?

To protect the zoning of Salem because it has the largest impact on the quality of life of our people and all of our neighborhoods.

What is the most pressing issue facing the city and its residents, and how would you resolve it?

Zoning decides how, when, where and why something is built. It impacts our traffic, density, infrastructure, our neighborhoods and quality of life. I’ll be very careful about changing our zoning.

One of the biggest issues facing Salem right now is the housing crisis. If you had a magic wand, how would you solve this issue?

Salem has 12.4% affordable housing. 15th best of 351 Massachusetts cities and towns. New development should have 10% to 20% affordable housing and we should increase the 10% Community Preservation Act income that we use on affordable housing programs so we improve our 15th place ranking.

A major project on the horizon is the redevelopment of Footprint Power’s 40-plus acres of undeveloped land. What’s your vision for the use of that land?

I would be willing to listen to any proposal that fits into the current zoning of the property.

The debate about a Haunted Happenings carnival has split much of the city. Is a carnival necessary for the final two weeks of Halloween? If so, where would you put it? If not, how do you replace it?

I don’t believe that a carnival is a necessary part of the Haunted Happenings celebration. I would not replace it.

Maribel Steadman

Maribel Steadman

Maribel “Belle” Steadman

Address: 6 Lowell St.

Age: Not provided

Profession: Clinical Laboratory Scientist

Family: Husband Mark, son Kerry

Previous elected office: None

Why did you want to run at-large instead of in your ward?

I am running for councilor-at-large because with my passion for community service, I know I can be a strong advocate for all Salem residents.

What is the most pressing issue facing the city and its residents, and how would you resolve it?

If elected, I intend to research the root causes of the factors that diminishes our quality of life, try to help resolve them using available resources and collaboration with others.

One of the biggest issues facing Salem right now is the housing crisis. If you had a magic wand, how would you solve this issue?

The solutions worth looking into to address the affordable housing crisis are: increasing inclusionary zoning from 10% to 20%-30%; adaptive reuse of municipal and religious building while preserving their historical integrity; use of accessory dwellings; low income tax credits for developers or investors; and implementation of National Housing Trust Fund.

A major project on the horizon is the redevelopment of Footprint Power’s 40-plus acres of undeveloped land. What’s your vision for the use of that land?

I would like to see some of these acres developed into a long avenue similar to the Promenade des Anglais with a bustling harbor, restaurants and boutiques for economic prosperity.

The debate about a Haunted Happenings carnival has split much of the city. Is a carnival necessary for the final two weeks of Halloween? If so, where would you put it? If not, how do you replace it?

With or without the carnival, Haunted Happenings happen with such flair and success. If elected, I will listen to the residents and decide accordingly.

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