Diners at Calamari’s Squid Row in downtown Erie might notice that the management is serving food with a side of politics.
The paper place mats at Calamari’s are an advertisement for Bill Kelly Jr.’s bid for an Erie County judgeship.
Co-owner J. Honard said that he is a good friend and supporter of Kelly, a Republican who won the Democratic nomination and will oppose Bob Sambroak. the Republican nominee, in the Nov. 5 election.
Both candidates sought both major party nominations in the spring primary.
The Kelly campaign is paying for the place mats, Honard said.
But Honard said the restaurant at 1317 State St. agreed to use them to both support Kelly and to get the word out about the election. “We have a really bad voter turnout in this county. Hopefully, it raises some awareness,” he said.
Voter turnout in the last municipal election, in 2011, was 26 percent, according to Doug Smith, Erie County clerk of elections. In the prior municipal election, in 2009, it was 28 percent.
Honard said there’s “a fine line” in mixing politics with a place open to the public.
But Honard said he has “no issue” standing up and saying who he supports. Honard said he believes another Erie restaurant has the place mats, too.
– John Guerriero