City Seeking Nominations for the 2022 Honorary Alcalde

Posted on November 4, 2021

The City of Sonoma is once again seeking nominations from the public for the 2022 Honorary Alcalde.

Each year, since 1975, the City Council selects a citizen of the year who is given the title of Honorary Alcalde (“Alcalde” is the Spanish word for Mayor). The honoree is given a silver-headed cane as a symbol of the honor and appears in parades at key community events. The honoree is also recognized with a reception hosted by the City, with help from the past Alcaldes, where their contributions are celebrated.

Nominations, which will be accepted until 5:00 PM December 10, 2021, may be made by submitting a letter or email to the City Manager. The letter should include the basis for the nomination using the criteria listed below. In addition to the nomination, three letters of recommendation are suggested in support of the nomination and to highlight the breadth and depth of the nominee’s work and accomplishments.

Nominees shall have accomplished several of the following:

  • Participated in a broad spectrum of voluntary community service to Sonoma Valley
  • Served in a leadership role in at least one non-profit organization
  • Spearheaded at least one community-serving project without compensation
  • Be 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

Another criterion that has been identified is that the nominee must reside in the City of Sonoma or Sonoma Valley, and may be either an individual or a couple.

Address Letters of Nomination to:

Garrett Toy, City Manager
City of Sonoma, No. 1, The Plaza
Sonoma CA 95476

O email

Call the City Clerk’s office at (707) 933-2216 for additional information. You can also learn more about the position of Alcalde, including the selection process, by visiting the City’s website at

Alcaldes in California came about through the rise of the pueblo system and the establishment of town councils (called ayuntamientos). The councils were headed by mayors (called alcaldes), and together they provided a semblance of government, hearing a wide range of issues from land disputes to criminal matters. The annually elected alcalde was not only the chief local law practitioner, but judge, justice of the peace (if no one els e filled that function), notary public, recorder, escrow agent in land transactions, boss of the town Council, jack of all trades, and was probably the town’s most useful citizen. He often had to rule on disputes over cattle, horses, branding irons, hides, horse race wagers, bankruptcy, adoption, promissory notes, barrels of wine, and vacant lands. Alcaldes were the recorders of mortgages, wills, and conveyances, and also had to deal with criminal activity including murder.

The Alcalde’s position and importance did not end with Mexican Rule. In his speech following the raising of the American Flag over Monterey on July 7, 1846 Commodore John Sloat restated the importance of alcaldes and invited them to continue to execute their duties. The function of alcaldes did not legally change until after the state Constitution was adopted, and duties previously performed by one person were separated into several positions. Today the Spanish word “alcalde” literally means Mayor.

Here is a list of previous Alcaldes:

Name Alcalde Year
August Pinelli 1976
Henri Maysonnaave 1977
Jerry Casson 1978
Bob Lynch 1979
Dan Ruggles 1980
Paul & Adele Harrison 1981
Gail Fehrensen 1982
Chet Sharek 1983
Evelyn Berger 1984
Alan & Sandy Piotter 1985
Nell Lane 1986
Jim Metzger 1987
Helen Shainsky 1988
Jerry Tuller 1989
Ernest & Loyce Power 1990
Jo Baker 1991
Ligia (Li) Booker 1992
Jim Vanderbilt 1993
Nancy Parmelee 1994
George Watson 1995
Bob & Carolyn Stone 1996
L. C. “Pete” Peterson 1997
Peggy McAleese 1998
Helen Fernandez 1999
Howie Ehret 2000
Robert Cannard, Sr. 2001
Mitch Mulas 2002
Ellie Baker 2003
Sue Holman & Susan Weeks 2004
June Sheppard 2005
Al & Kathy Mazza 2006
Phyllis Carter 2007
Sy Lenz 2008
Elizabeth Kemp 2009
Niels Chew 2010
Mary Evelyn Arnold 2011
Whitney Evans 2012
Les & Judy Vadasz 2013
Suzanne Brangham 2014
Marcie Waldron 2015
Patrick Garcia 2016
Ted & Pat Eliot 2017
Marcelo Defreitas 2018
Karen Collins 2019
Simon & Kimberly Blattner 2020 & 2021


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