Vadaszes are heaped with accolades
LES AND JUDY VADASZ were named Sonoma’s alcalde for the coming year.
Les Vadasz/Special to the Index-Tribune
In the aftermath of the City Council’s selection of Les and Judy Vadasz as alcalde and alcaldesa for 2013, Les Vadasz, who was out of town in Yosemite without cell phone reception and not immediately aware of the decision, expressed a little mild anxiety.
“It’s an honor,” he said after returning to Sonoma, “it’s kind of humbling. It makes you think you have to work a little harder.”
Vadasz said he and Judy were at a pre-Christmas party when Mayor Ken Brown asked if he was going to be at the Dec. 17 City Council meeting. But, Vadasz explained, “We didn’t know what the procedures were, we didn’t know anything about it.”
The Vadaszes were selected from a pool of three nominees that included Gary Edwards and Rob Wilson.
Since they were out of town and out of telephone range for that meeting, neither Vadasz heard the parade of praise heaped on them by a dozen prominent Sonomans who rose to support their nomination.
The first to speak was Edwards, who said he was honored to be considered but insisted, “It’s not my time,” urged selection of the selection of the Vadaszes, and promised that for the alcalde reception that will planned in the new year, “I’m happy to provide the cheese.”
Edwards is, among other things, a cheese merchant and supplied cheese for last year’s alcalde reception.
Steve Kyle, a longtime Vadasz friend, told the City Council, “I’ve lived here nearly four decades. I can’t think of another couple who have had the impact on this Valley of Les and Judy. We have 25 or 26 nonprofits; Les and Judy have had impacts on virtually all of them.”
Richard Dale, executive director of the Sonoma Ecology Center, said, “The entrepreneurial spirit that they bring has made our work so much more doable and deep … giving kids tools to make them good citizens. They support the fundamentals that makes that possible.”
Valley artist Anne Ziemienski heaped special praise on Judy Vadasz for her seminal role in creation of the Sonoma Plein Air Foundation that has now raised some $650,000 for art education programs in the Valley. “Judy has been the heart and soul of the organization,” said Ziemienski.
Kate Eilertsen, executive director of the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art, praised the Vadaszes for their focus on education. “Their commitment to education is mind-blowing,” Eilertsen said. “They are remarkable, they understand the importance of role models.”
Kathy Witkowicki, executive director of the Sonoma Valley Mentoring Alliance – where both Les and Judy have been mentors – praised their support. “When I asked Les what he could give, he asked me, ‘What do you need?’ I said, I don’t know where to begin. What do you want to give? He said, ‘What you need.’”
Lynnete Lyon, a local animal educator, described the Vadaszes as “Humble. They haven’t asked for recognition or to be in the limelight.”
School Superintendent Louann Carlomagno said, “The work they’ve done withthe schools has been just incredible.”
Sonoma Valley Hospital CEO Kelly Mather announced, “They just gave us a rather large donation to help us finish our emergency room.”
Steve Pease, civic leader and venture capital investor, said of Les and Judy, “They’ve supported, I think, 24 of the nonprofits in the Valley. Sonoma’s blessed to have them.”
Former Index-Tribune publisher and editor Bill Lynch noted that, in 45 years of covering news in the Sonoma Valley, Les and Judy Vadasz fit well among the pantheon of civic leaders and former alcaldes. “Without a doubt,” said Lynch, those who have gone before “would be pleased and proud to share this honor with Les and Judy.”
Outgoing alcalde Whitney Evans praised the Vadaszes and welcomed them to the alcalde ranks. “It’s been a wonderful year,” he said.
And retired educator Dick Drew concluded with an account of how Les Vadaszes agreed to serve for one year on a youth initiative extending education through the summer months. He stayed far longer and ensured that the program could become an independent sustainable entity.
Mayor Brown then closed public comment, announced that, “It’s an honor to live here in Sonoma among all these folks, and nominated Les and Judy Vadasz.
The validation was so complete that Brown then forgot to call for a formal vote.
It was, in the end, emphatically unanimous.