SALEM — Below are capsule profiles for the eight candidates running for four at-large seats on the Salem City Council. The general election is Tuesday, Nov. 5. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Jeff Cohen

Address: 12 Hancock St.

Age: 63

Profession: Business development manager

Family: Wife Flora Tonthat

Previous elected office: None

If elected, what is the first order you will file, and why?

I will bring the wage theft ordinance to the full council. Although not a priority for this council, it is for those who most affected. Low-income, immigrant and those with limited English proficiency are most vulnerable and we need to act to protect them and prevent employers who don’t pay fairly from gaining a competitive edge over those who follow the law. I stand up for those in our community that need it most.

In October, Salem struggles to balance its history and its tourism draw. Residents are strained by the city’s capacity to draw bigger crowds each year while businesses credit their survival outside of October on what happens in October. Do you view Halloween as helping or hurting Salem, and why?

Halloween is on balance positive for Salem for our economy and all the great events, especially for our children. However, we must focus more on our history, bringing back the Salem artifacts from the Phillips Library and continuing to honor those who’ve contributed to our City through architecture and culture.

How do you protect Salem, its miles of coastline and residents living near water from the global issue of climate change?

We need bold immediate action. I’ll propose a resiliency zoning ordinance, increased efficiency/sustainability minimums for new developments and retrofits including zero carbon buildings, making Sustainability, Energy and Resiliency Committee an integral part of the process, investment in our tree program, micro-grids, and hold National Grid accountable for gas leaks.

How effective or ineffective is the current City Council, and how will you improve that if elected?

Our Council must be much more accountable and accessible, so I will propose all subcommittees meet at least once a month as our volunteer boards do and the meetings are on SATV. I will hold open office hours twice a week throughout the City, bringing the Council to the people.

If City Hall saw the need to expand its offerings for marijuana (i.e. more recreational licenses, more medical dispensaries or more zoning support), how would you respond and why? What would you want to see done first?

I don’t support expansion of offerings until those facilities accepted are up and running and we get a sense of further need, but we need to have education and outreach.

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

First order...

My first order would be to improve the October experience in Salem for residents and visitors. We should have developers freeze construction during October or schedule projects around our busiest season.

On Halloween...

Halloween is an important cultural attraction, but Salem’s economy should not depend on it. There is a limit before it negatively impacts the quality of life for residents. We can continue to focus on tourism and diversify because there are opportunities to lead in technology, health services, and other industries.

On climate change...

Salem developed a “Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment & Adaptation Plan” in 2014. I believe it makes sense. We need to discuss it as a community, revise it if we need to, and settle on action steps to address climate change as a city now.

Effective or ineffective

We need to clearly define our role, which I believe is to provide checks and balance to make sure residents’ voices are heard. Debate and disagreement are part of the process, yet we need to always be united in fulfilling our primary duty. Increased transparency and communication can help us.

On marijuana...

We must be careful because marijuana can have a major impact on our youth. The city should issue a report with data, making residents aware of revenue and impact.

Ty Hapworth

Address: 6 Brown St.

Age: 36

Profession: Commercial executive at Microsoft

Family: Wife Micah, children Harrison and Sylvia

Previous elected office: None

First order

I would file an inclusionary zoning ordinance, mandating a higher percentage of affordability in all new construction and require that the affordable homes be located onsite alongside market rate homes. I would immediately take steps to influence the quality and the impact that development would have on our neighborhoods. Through inclusionary zoning, resiliency zoning, and requirements for more diverse transit options we can take steps to make our neighborhoods more livable and lovable.

On Halloween...

In October, the eyes of the world are on Salem. We should use this as an opportunity to tell our authentic story. Through clear signage and consistent branding we can emphasize our compelling history. Access to historic sites and cemeteries should be respectful and would promote a less carnival-like atmosphere.

On climate change...

We must, as a priority, act on the recommendations made in the 2014 resiliency study. This includes improving seawalls, installing permeable asphalt, erecting temporary flood walls, etc. In addition, creating a resiliency overlay would help to ensure all new construction is built in a way to protect its residents.

Effective or ineffective 

Over the last two years the Council has found it challenging to come to consensus and it has been disappointing to watch. I have successfully led teams through challenges in the Army and private sector and have learned to navigate personality conflicts and arguments, stay on mission and accomplish tasks.

On marijuana...

Loosening of buffer zones or increasing the number of licenses granted should only be done with clear understanding of which amenities residents will receive in return via increased tax revenue.

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

First order

I’ll file an order to initiate a dialogue with our neighboring communities to develop a regional bus system. We need to create a system that works and will reduce traffic congestion. Cape Ann and Merrimack Valley have regional bus systems that work and receive state and federal funds. The system could offer a reasonably priced option to get to popular destination points on the North Shore. It would be good for Salem.

On Halloween...

Helping. The Chamber of Commerce started to promote Halloween several years ago and it has grown to what we have today. It’s helped enhance our tourism industry generally and has become an economic engine for small businesses year-round. As a small-business owner, I have seen the benefits.

On climate change...

The city has done a lot to identify potential issues from climate change. It’s going to take local, state and federal funds to implement coastal protection projects. I have experience working on coastal erosion projects and understand how to get these projects done.

Effective or ineffective 

It hasn’t been a good couple of years for the council. The rules haven’t been followed and politics has caused a division that hurts the body and the city. I know the rules, can leave politics at the door and lead by example. Members work for the citizens of Salem.

On marijuana...

If all the current applications from Salem are approved by the state, that’s enough. I don’t want to see Salem become the city known for having the most pot shops.

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

First order

After spending these past months talking to voters and listening to their concerns about civic engagement, I would like to introduce an ordinance to shift our city elections to even years. This is proven to substantially increase voter turnout in local elections, and would have the potential to save over half a million dollars in election and registration expenses over a 10-year period.

On Halloween...

The tourism we attract here in October is critical to our local businesses and economy overall. What I’d like to promote are the shops and restaurants outside the immediate downtown so that more businesses can benefit from the large crowds. I also want to increase promotion/marketing for visiting Salem November-August.

On climate change...

We need to take an aggressive, proactive approach to coastal resiliency with the current climate crisis. Using the expertise we have with our local and regional environmental organizations, we need to prioritize sea walls, living shore lines, pursue grants/federal funds, and plan responsibly for new development.

Effective or ineffective

My concern is that too often city business/ordinances get held up in the council. This results in decaying empty buildings, Traffic and Parking Commission ideas taking months to initiate, and other hurdles to keeping our city thriving. I am committed to working as a team and getting the job done.

On marijuana...

Before expanding our marijuana business, I would first examine the impact our current shop(s) have had in regards to traffic, neighborhood relations, and financial benefits to Salem.

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

First order

The many zoning ordinance changes/additions that have come before us have highlighted the need for some kind of zoning overhaul. Our current zoning is well over 50 years old and we are not the city we were in 1960. We need to recognize that and begin the process of identifying who we want to be as a city and have our zoning reflect that vision.

On Halloween...

Halloween season helps our brick and mortar businesses, especially restaurants, through the lean winter months. They have incorporated revenues from this time of year in their business plans. We need to continue to support this vital piece of Salem’s economic health.

On climate change...

Many of the state and federal programs we look to for help require an investment by the city. We need to make sure our budget includes these funds so that the city is positioned to pursue opportunities for seawall repair and other significant measures to protect our residents and coast.

Effective or ineffective

The city council’s effectiveness ebbs and flows with the combined level of experience. In my first term, I had a huge learning curve. Now, as an experienced councilor I can mentor new councilors and help them adjust and learn, so that the council, as a whole, can be more effective.

On marijuana...

This requires a review of available data to determine what works and what doesn’t. Based on state-wide need, I support medical dispensaries.

Conrad Prosniewski

Address: 9 Shore Ave.

Age: 65

Profession: Retired police captain

Family: Wife Julie, children Michael and Kristina

Previous elected office: None

First order

One of the most frustrating issues for any resident of Salem and its visitors is the ever increasing traffic congestion, not only in October but throughout the year. My first order would be to form a committee which would challenge city planners, police and interested residents to formulate an effective strategy and seriously look at redesigning our traffic patterns so we can avoid the continual traffic jams and gridlock which only get worse every year.

On Halloween...

For 11 of 12 months people who come to Salem enjoy the blend of our City’s rich history. October is another challenge, not only for City leaders but residents also. I intend to focus on helping to craft an improved year-round experience for our guests, businesses and our residents.

On climate change

We are a coastal community and must take serious consideration on what experts say the impact of climate change will have on our city and shoreline. A collaborative effort by city leaders and these experts will be needed to formulate a strategy designed for Salem.

Effective or ineffective

Conflict among our leadership is making it difficult to move forward. Stalemates and standoffs due to personal differences are not in the best interest of Salem. I do not have alliances or allegiances, and my background has taught me to make decisions based on facts, not assumptions or suppositions.

On marijuana...

The Cannabis Control Commission designates how many licenses are allowed in each community. Our responsibility is the proper placement of these establishments based on multiple conditions, strongly including neighborhood input.

Arthur Sargent

Address: 8 Maple Ave.

Age: 62

Family: Wife Kathleen; children Patrick, Amy and Eric

Profession: Instrumentation Technician, Massachusetts Water Resource Authority

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

First order

I’ll refile a worker safety ordinance. The last time I brought it in, it died in committee. On Jan. 1, I can bring it in again. I’m hoping we’ll be able to create a strong worker safety ordinance requiring all contractors and subcontractors doing work for the City of Salem to pass an OSHA safety background check. This would keep a company with a questionable safety record from working on city projects.

On Halloween...

Some like it, others tolerate it, all are inconvenienced by it. It helps residents who profit from it the most. Even the business community is split on the issue. Some profit but other businesses lose money because their customers stay away in October. We shouldn’t allow it to expand.

On climate change...

With a scheduled maintenance program for our infrastructure, because it’s less expensive and more reliable. We must inspect and repair our sea walls on a regular basis, clean our storm drains and pipes and do scheduled maintenance on our pumping stations. We should also stop building on our flood plains.

Effective or ineffective

When we let people know about the issues that affect them; research those issues, debate them with dignity, make an informed independent vote, accept the results of the vote and move on to the next issue, we’re an effective legislative body. If re-elected I’ll continue to conduct myself this way.

On marijuana...

We have to accept the result of the vote to legalize marijuana, but I don’t support allowing any more marijuana stores in Salem than we have to by state law.

Recommended for you