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October 24, 2020
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Mary’s Pizza - Encouraging the vote

By: Cassandra May Albaugh
October 16, 2020

The election on November 3 is fast approaching. Many efforts are underway to encourage folks to register and vote. One unusual and unexpected effort in our local community comes from the owner of Mary’s Pizza in Rohnert Park. Cully Williamson has been with Mary’s Pizza for forty years. His spouse, Terri Albano Williamson is the granddaughter of Mary Fazio, who opened the original Mary’s Pizza in Boyes Hot Springs in 1959. Williamson and his wife, with their son Chase and his wife Jonnie also own the Steele & Hops Public House in Santa Rosa.

They are closing both restaurants on election day. The employees, however, will still be paid their wages. They’ve met with their employees in storewide meetings, encouraging them to register and vote but more importantly to help get the message out with their family and friends to do the same. The original idea came from Williamson’s son. He liked it. Williamson said they were looking “at what we could do to make a difference.” They decided making November 3 like a holiday was one way to get as “many people as possible” out to participate in what he considers one of the most important, if not the most important election, in his lifetime.

The effort is not in support or opposition to any candidate or ballot issue. His hope is that the turnout in this election breaks turnout records in the local community, our state and even our nation. He’s been active, putting up posters in their restaurants, encouraging folks to register and vote on his social media sites and reaching out to the League of Women Voters and the Sonoma County Register’s Office asking how he and his employees can help on election day. Perhaps they need help at the polls or a senior or someone needs a ride to go vote. To date – he’s not received any responses. But if you know of a way they can help, please contact him at: Cully@maryspizzashack.com.

Williamson reached out to other restaurants to see if they were interested in joining this effort. But he understands that given the current pandemic with many of them hanging on by a thread, that they’re unlikely to participate. Like his two businesses, operating outside on patios, lawns, or in parking lots; relying on take out or delivery service; it’s hard to forego the income and pay wages too on that day. Again, “It’s not a political thing.” He and his family just feel it’s important that folks vote this year. He wants to let our leaders in the community, Sacramento and Washington D.C. know that we’re watching and listening to what they’re doing. He wants to “let our voice” be heard by exercising our votes.