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Sonoma City Council to select alcalde Monday

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The Sonoma City Council will meet Monday night to select the 2014 alcalde, or alcaldessa, the honorary mayoral position that harkens back to Spanish times and was the traditional office of a municipal magistrate. Alcaldes doubled as judges, notary publics, recorders, escrow agents, chief law enforcers and all-around town leaders.

Sonoma alcaldes are chosen annually and, following Spanish tradition, each honoree is given a silver-headed cane they are expected to carry with them when conducting personal appearances and presiding at events. Alcaldes can be men or women, but female honorees are called alcaldessas.

Alcaldes are chosen by the mayor following nominations from the public. A nominating committee composed of the outgoing mayor, the current and immediate past alcaldes and the city manager, review the letters of nomination before passing them on to the mayor, along with their recommendations for the top candidates.

This year’s nominees are Suzanne Brangham, Harriet Derwingson, Gary Edwards, Pam Gibson, Carole and Bob Nicholas, Wayne Schake, Jackie Stubbs and Marcie Waldron.

Criteria for alcalde selection include:

• A broad spectrum of voluntary service to Sonoma Valley.

• Service in a leadership role in at least one nonprofit organization.

• Having spearheaded at least one community-service project without compensation.

• Being well-known for consistent, behind-the-scenes good deeds.

• Refusal to seek public accolades or recognition for good deeds done.

• Adherence to a high standard of moral and ethical values.

The outgoing office-holders are Les and Judy Vadasz, the seventh couple to share the title since the office was resurrected in 1976.

Alcaldes have no official governmental authority, but they preside at a number of community events, notably the Fourth of July Parade, and receive a degree of honored status throughout the year of their reign.

Final selection of the 2014 alcalde will be made by Mayor Tom Rouse, with the concurrence of the City Council.

In other city business Monday night, the council will recognize Francisco Chavez as the Boys & Girls Club of Sonoma Valley 2013 Youth of the Year, and will conduct a public hearing on the appeal of a Planning Commission decision to approve the application of an 80-foot tall, faux redwood tree “monopine” cell tower sought by AT&T on the north side of the Sebastiani Winery, that has been appealed by four neighbors.

The City Council meeting will begin at 6 p.m. in the Community Meeting Room, 177 First St. W. The meeting is open to the public.