The 2018 Honorary Alcalde is Marcelo Defreitas.
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 150thanniversary 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
Here is a list of previous Alcaldes:
|Paul & Adele Harrison||1981|
|Alan & Sandy Piotter||1985|
|Ernest & Loyce Power||1990|
|Bob & Carolyn Stone||1996|
|L. C. “Pete” Peterson||1997|
|Robert Cannard, Sr.||2001|
|Sue Holman & Susan Weeks||2004|
|Al & Kathy Mazza||2006|
|Mary Evelyn Arnold||2011|
|Les & Judy Vadasz||2013|
|Ted & Pat Eliot||2017|