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Sonoma City Manager Announces Plans to Retire by End of Year

Posted on July 31, 2020


Cathy Capriola has served as the City‘s chief executive since January of 2017 and is a resident of Sonoma. She is retiring after 30 years of working for cities in northern California, including Novato, Citrus Heights, Davis, and Vacaville and plans to continue working on a part-time basis as a consultant to public agencies.

“I care deeply about this organization and community which is my home and it is a difficult decision to leave,” said Capriola.  Capriola stated that prior to the pandemic, she had considered retiring in late 2020 and the many implications of COVID-19 have now reinforced that original plan.  “With my three teenage children set to attend schools on-line and another high school senior ready to graduate, I want to have more time to be with and support them both academically and personally during this challenging time. For the past few years, my priority has been the City of Sonoma, I now need to shift my priority to my family,” affirmed Capriola.  “Transitioning to a consulting role will provide me with the flexibility that my family needs.”

In her retirement letter, Capriola expressed appreciation for the ongoing dedication of the City Council, and her pride in leading a talented and committed City staff that are truly dedicated public servants.  She highlighted the hard work and accomplishments of the organization including:

  • Prepared for and facilitated critical services to the community in response to fires, storms, PG&E public safety power shutoffs, and now the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Completion of a minimum wage ordinance and tasting room regulations, as well as thoughtful deliberation on upcoming action on commercial cannabis dispensaries.
  • Strengthened financial systems including an updated water rate study, increased hotel tax, current cost allocation plan, comprehensive budget documents, cost recovery fee program, updated policies, and 5-year financial planning model.
  • Improved communication and transparency with the public through a new website, active social media presence, public meeting management software to allow streaming of meetings, and easier public access to key City documents and decisions.
  • Enhanced affordable housing efforts including Housing Town Halls, Housing Trust Fund, and new impact fees.
  • Improved environmental sustainability efforts with Council’s recently approved Sustainability Strategic Plan.

Much of Capriola’s tenure has been dedicated to emergency preparedness and management, leading the City through a series of events beginning with the 2017 fires and continuing with storms, extended power shutoffs, and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.  While the pandemic will continue to affect all aspects of community life as well as City finances, Capriola expressed confidence that the City has the systems, policies, people, and relationships in place to help guide the community through the challenges ahead.

Mayor Logan Harvey responded, “Cathy Capriola’s talent and dedication to her role and her city are unrivaled. In her three years of service to our community, Cathy has led Sonoma through fires, power shutoffs, and a pandemic with a steady and extremely capable hand. Cathy has balanced our budgets, led the effort in developing long term financial and capital improvement strategies, and put the city on track to a successful future. Cathy’s service to our community also extended beyond the city’s borders, and I have often had council members and city managers from other cities in our county express their appreciation of and respect for Cathy’s talents and her willingness to assist in making not only our city, but our county, a better and safer place. I thank her for her service to our community, and I wish her and her family the best in the future.”

Mayor Harvey indicated that the City Council will begin discussing transition planning over the coming weeks.

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