Spaghetti dinner on election day: 2 candidates for mayor of Syracuse meet one last time before polling stations close


Syracuse’s iconic political tradition, the spaghetti supper at Notre-Dame de Pompeii School, returns on Tuesday with take-out and outdoor seating.

Lucy Paris and her team of chefs and volunteers continued the tradition last year amid the pandemic, moving towards take-out and delivery. It worked so well, the volunteers said, that they did it again this year. The team also added a new outdoor seating area under the church glass roof.

Dozens of volunteers arrived at the school cafeteria around 5:30 a.m. to begin assembling the meals. Volunteers packed the spaghetti and meatballs in brown paper bags and loaded them into cars all morning and afternoon.

Money raised at the annual dinner helps fund scholarships for children at Our Lady of Pompei School. It is also the last chance political candidates often have to meet and talk to voters.

Former Onondaga County executive Nicholas Pirro and his wife Patti Pirro were among the first guests to arrive and collect their food.

Soon they were followed by Anthony Brindisi, candidate for the state Supreme Court, and Khalid Bey, candidate for mayor of Syracuse. The two Democrats greeted each other with a hug.

“I feel great,” Bey said, as he stood in line for her spaghetti supper. “I’m still optimistic about our chances. I argued that unpredictability is in our favor.

Bey, a city councilor, is not the first black candidate for mayor. But if he wins, he would be the first to hold the highest office in Syracuse.

Independent Mayor Ben Walsh arrived a few minutes later with his wife, Lindsay.

Walsh and Bey face each other, and Republican candidate Janet Burman, in this election year’s marquee race for mayor of Syracuse. They had a last friendly conversation in front of the Notre-Dame de Pompeii school.

“Well, we made it,” Walsh told Bey, as they shook hands.

“We did it,” Bey said. “I thought about texting you this morning.

While waiting for their takeaways, opponents of the town hall have been gossiping … spaghetti squash, among others. (Bey doesn’t eat meat.)

“I asked him if he had ever tried spaghetti squash, where you actually make it like spaghetti,” Walsh said. “He hadn’t, so I hope he uses that tip.” My daughter is a vegetarian so we have that in common I guess.

Bey has the Democratic Party nomination in a city where 56% of voters are Democrats, but Walsh made history four years ago as the first independent candidate in 100 years to hold the seat of mayor.

Walsh and Bey have known each other for about a decade and have made public safety, economic opportunity and lifting people out of poverty key points in both of their campaigns.

“In a lot of ways we care about the same things,” Walsh said. “We could do it differently, but that’s okay. We have always tried to work well together, and even throughout the campaign we kept things respectful. I have no doubts that whatever happens tonight, we can pick up the phone and call each other tomorrow.

Bey and her supporters will watch the election results with her fellow Democrats at Maxwell in Hanover Square. Walsh and his supporters will watch the election at the Marriott Syracuse Downtown, as he did four years ago.

By lunchtime on polling day, nearly 14,000 votes have been cast so far and nearly 29,000 have been cast in total, according to Onondaga County Election Commissioner Dustin Czarny.

All polling stations operate until 9:00 p.m. Czarny expects traffic at polling stations to increase between 4:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.

Katrina Tulloch takes pictures for and The Post-Standard. Contact her: Email | Twitter | Facebook

Learn more about Election Day coverage:

• It’s not a Biden-Trump year, but here’s why the 2021 local election matters in Syracuse

• Election 2021: A Complete Guide to Election Coverage from (over 60 articles)

• Who’s on the ballots in downtown New York?

• See the propositions that will appear on every New York State ballot

• Editorial approval running for Mayor of Syracuse

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