The City of Sonoma is once again seeking nominations from the public for the 2018 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).
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 else 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.
Nominations, which will be accepted until December 31, 2017, may be made by submitting a letter addressed to the City Manager. The letter should include the basis for the nomination using the criteria listed below.
Nominees shall embody several of the following:
- 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
Address Letters of Nomination to: Cathy Capriola, City Manager, City of Sonoma, No. 1, The Plaza, Sonoma CA 95476. Call the City Clerk’s office at (707) 933-2216 for additional information.