SALEM — Conrad Prosniewski, in his inaugural run for office, handily topped the ticket in Tuesday’s city-wide preliminary election in Salem, ensuring him a spot on the ballot in November.

Prosniewski, 65, a retired Salem police captain, is vying for one of four at-large seats on the City Council. At the other end of a crowded field of candidates in the race, Maribel Steadman, Melissa Faulkner and Gary “Gigi” Gill, trailed the top eight vote-getters Tuesday to finish out of the running.

“I’m kind of in shock a little bit,” said Prosniewski, who was at City Hall watching the results come in with his daughter. “I’m humbled... I’m grateful to the people that have supported me and to the community that’s always supported me throughout my career and throughout the election.

“I just picked up my daughter, she was holding my sign, and we figured this was the place to be,” he said.

As for Kristina Prosniewski-Kennedy, she was “super proud” of her father. “I was here for the long haul, I wanted to see the results,” she said.

“She got married on Saturday, I won an election on Tuesday,” her father remarked. “Not a bad week, I’m going to go play the lottery.”

Domingo Dominguez, Ty Hapworth, Alice Merkl, Arthur Sargent, Jeff Cohen, Elaine Milo and George McCabe also all move on to the general election Nov. 5. Dominguez, Sargent and Milo are incumbents while the rest of the candidates are new to the council, or in the case of McCabe, it’s been a while. He last served on the council in 1996.

The at-large race saw a crowded field of 11 candidates this election season, likely due in part to the open seat being left by City Council Dean Tom Furey, who is not seeking reelection. Furey, the longest-serving councilor with 22 years, announced in late 2018 that he would not seek another term. His political career will end in 2020 with 34 years between the School Committee and City Council.

“I’m very happy, and very honored by the residents of Salem giving me the opportunity,” said Dominguez, 55, who is seeking a second term. “I’ve proven I want to serve my city and I’m doing it with all my heart because I love Salem.

“I congratulated everyone in the race, we had a lot of great candidates all over,” he said. 

Merkl, 56, who had also run unsuccessfully for Register of Deeds last year, said she was “very, very, very excited” Tuesday night.

“I’m happy for my volunteers because I know how hard they worked. I’m really happy for the whole team, and it’s been such a wonderful experience to see just so many great candidates run,” Merkl said. “The biggest reward is seeing so many people involved and engaged.”

She said the message of a new voice on the council resonates with voters, as well as seeing her as a team player “who’s really focused on community.”

Meanwhile, in a four-person preliminary for Ward 3 Councilor, Patti Morsillo surged ahead Tuesday over Robert Camire, Leo Higgins and Jill Mulholland, who trailed in a distant fourth. Morsillo and Camire will advance to November. The council seat is open, as Lisa Peterson is mounting a challenge to Congressman Seth Moulton instead of seeking re-election.

In Ward 6, Megan Riccardi and former councilor Jerry Ryan advance, leaving behind Tyler Terry. Three-term councilor Beth Gerard is not running again. A mere four votes separated Riccardi and Ryan, who had previously served two different stints on the council.

Morsillo, Camire, Riccardi and Ryan were not immediately available for comment Tuesday night.

All eyes now turn to the city’s biennial election on Tuesday, Nov. 5. The deadline to register to vote is Wednesday, Oct. 16.

Contact Salem reporter Dustin Luca at 978-338-2523 or DLuca@salemnews.com. Follow him on Facebook at facebook.com/dustinluca or on Twitter @DustinLucaSN.

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