The City of Sonoma’s highest honor for public service, the Alcadessa, was awarded Monday night to Suzanne Brangham.
In making the announcement at the City Council meeting, Mayor Tom Rouse saluted Brangham for her tireless efforts on behalf of Sonoma Valley Hospital, Sonoma Community Center, the Sonoma Valley Museum, the Education Foundation and as founder of the Red and White Ball.
She also serves on the board of the Sonoma Valley Fund.
A native of New York, Brangham’s background includes teaching fine arts and commercial design, working in advertising and public relations, and a career in interior design career. She retired in 1987 only to begin another career in building rammed earth homes. She then renovated a Sonoma Victorian, turning it into a successful restaurant, and created the culinary school, Ramekins and, in another historical renovation, developed MacArthur Place as an inn and steakhouse.
A tradition of the Pueblo system, the Alcalde was revived locally in 1975 when the city council decided to once again find “the town’s most useful citizen.” The city council has voted for an “honorary Alcalde” every year since.
The honoree is given a silver-headed cane as a symbol of the honor and makes appearances at numerous public events.
Alcalde honor roll
The very first Alcade was August Pinelli, in 1976. Here are some of the more recent recipients:
2005 – June Sheppard
2006 – Al & Kathy Mazza
2007 – Phyllis Carter
2008 – Sy Lenz
2009 – Elizabeth Kemp
2010 – Niels Chew
2011 – Mary Evelyn Arnold
2012 – Whitney Evans
2013 – Les and Judy Vadász