It was a love-fest for Suzanne Brangham when the official alcalde cane was passed from Les and Judy Vadasz to the alcaldessa of 2014 during a reception at Vintage House on Thursday.
Gripping the symbolic, silver-headed stick, Brangham gave Sonoma Mayor Tom Rouse a broad smile and said, “If you’ll let me be the honorary mayor, I have all kinds of ideas.”
Brangham was chosen for the annual honor by the City Council in December, and a gathering of more than 100 of her friends and admirers showed up to celebrate her.
Proclamations were read by Rouse and by representatives of Assemblymember Marc Levine, Rep. Mike Thompson and 1st District Supervisor Susan Gorin, whose aide Jennifer Gray worked six years for Brangham at her restaurant, The General’s Daughter. Gray described a typical Brangham evening. “She showed up to greet every table, then did a teen ride-along while planning the Red & White Ball ... she is a force of nature.”
Valley philanthropist Carolyn Stone held up a five-foot-long list of “everything Suzanne Brangham has done,” adding, “she’s a darn good cook too, and knows how to entertain in style.”
Brangham has said she came to Sonoma, ostensibly to retire, but ended up opening three businesses – MacArthur Place, The General’s Daughter and Ramekins Culinary School and Event Center. Along the way she became a volunteer extraordinaire with membership and leadership roles in nonprofit after nonprofit, cause after cause.
The alcalde/alcaldessa honor is bestowed each year on citizens (or couples) who have done notable good works without calling attention to themselves. It is a tradition reaching back through Spanish California to old Spain.
“I am overwhelmed, overjoyed, overtaken,” she told the crowd. “I love this town. It beckoned and we moved here.”
“We’ll see you around town,” she concluded. “I’m not going anywhere.”