Special Honors

City of Sonoma Honorary Alcalde

The History and Criteria for Award:
Historically, the position of alcalde has its roots in Spanish tradition and was used most extensively in Spain’s overseas colonies.  The alcalde acted not only as a mayor, but as a mayor with veto powers over town council actions, the chief law enforcement officer, judge, assessor, notary, tax collector, hide inspector, and in some cases teacher of the pueblo.

Historian Dr. Theodor Grivas in an article appearing in the California Historical Society Quarterly wrote: “Doubtless, the most important single officer in the administration of local government in California, both before and after the American conquest, was the alcalde.”

The alcalde’s symbol of authority was a silver-headed cane.  If the alcalde himself was unable to attend an official function his cane would be sent in his place.  The cane also served another less ceremonial function as a standard of measure.

The alcalde, in his role as arbiter of land disputes and assessor, measured the land in question based on the length of his cane.  His decision in the matter was final.

The very first person named the City of Sonoma Alcalde was Mr. Richard Raoul Emparan, grandson of the Sonoma’s founder General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo.  He was honored with the title in 1972 under action taken by then Supervisor Ignazio A. Vella and the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors.  Emparan, shown in the picture to the right was honored on the 150th anniversary of the founding of San Francisco Solano Mission.  He was presented with the Alcalde cane.

In 1975 the Sonoma City Council decided to make naming of an Honorary Alcalde an annual process as a means of recognizing individuals in the community who had made unselfish contributions to the welfare of Sonoma.  At a luncheon held on December 16, 1976 Mayor Henry Riboni announced that August Pinelli had been named as the 1976 Honorary Alcalde for the City of Sonoma.  Mr. Pinelli received a silver-headed cane to carry during his tenure and plaque bearing a key to the City.  The City also established a perpetual plaque to display the names of all the subsequent Honorary Alcaldes.

Nominees shall embody several of the following criteria:

- A broad spectrum of voluntary community service to Sonoma Valley
- Service in a leadership role in at least one non-profit organization
- Has spearheaded at least one community-serving project without compensation
- Is well-known for consistent behind-the-scenes good deeds
- Does not seek public accolades or recognition for work done
- Adheres to a high standard of moral and ethical values

Pat and Ted Eliot were named the 2017 City of Sonoma Honorary Alcade and Alcadessa.

For a full list of City of Sonoma Honorary Alcaldes please click here


Treasure Artist of the Year

Annual Treasure Artists of the Year are nominated by the community and their peers for "outstanding achievement in a chosen artistic medium including the performing, visual, musical, literary and theater arts".

Treasure Artists are selected by the Cultural and Fine Arts Commission and honored at a reception.

1983 - Marian Brackenridge (Sculptor) & Ted Christensen, Painter
1984 - MFK. Fisher (Writer)& James Vanderbilt, Painter
1985 - Anthony Stellon, Sculptor
1986 - Dan Ruggles, Musician
1987 - Irma Wallem, Writer
1988 - C. Carl Jennings, Metalsmith
1989 - Helene Minelli, Painter
1990 - Otto Hitzberger, Sculptor
1991 - Linus Maurer, Cartoonist
1992 - Norton Buffalo, Musician
1993 - James Griewe, Choral Conductor
1994 - Stanley Mouse, Painter; & Fred Parker, Painter
1995 - Jo Anne Connor-Metzger, Musician
1996 - Antoinette Kuhry, Founder Sonoma City Opera
1997 - Ray Jocobsen, Painter
1998 - Beverly Prevost, Ceramicist
1999 - Kate Kennedy, Actress & Director
2000 - Jim Callahan, Sculptor
2001 - Beth Marie Deenihan, Dance
2002 - Cynthia Hipkiss, Ceramicist
2003 - Chester Arnold, Artist & Teacher
2004 - Roger & Diana Rhoten, Theater and Teachers
2005 - Keith Wicks, Painter
2006 - Janis Kobe, Illustrative Artist and teacher
2007 - Richard Schneider, Musician and founder of the Hometown Band
2008 - Linda Rawls, Costume Designer
2009 - Lin Lipetz, Painter, Ceramicist, Instructor
2010 - Gayle Manfre, Artist, Teacher, Muralist
2011 - Dennis Ziemienski, Teacher, Painter and Muralist
2012 - Barbara Jacobsen, Visual Artist and Teacher
2013 - David Aguilar, Musician
2014 - Thena Trygstad, Artist and Teacher
2015 - Barbara White Perry, Artist and Author
2016 - Dick Cole, Watercolor Artist and Illustrator
2017 - Peter Hansen, Filmmaker 

Student Creative Artist Award

The City of Sonoma Cultural and Fine Arts Commission's Student Creative Artist Award Program is open to Sonoma Valley residents between the ages of sixteen and twenty-one who demonstrate unusual promise in the visual, literary or performing arts.

Submittals include an application, a 200-500 word statement explaining the role that art has played in thier life and what their plans are for continuing their artistic training, along with as portfolio of at least five works. All applicants are then asked to participate in a an interview process with the commission members.