Arrest fallout could stall Sonoma County Supervisor Efren Carrillo's political career

Sonoma County Supervisor Efren Carrillo's arrest Saturday on suspicion of burglary and prowling is likely to curtail any short-term plans of his to seek higher office and could cut short or limit his career in local government, political observers said Sunday.

While the extent of immediate damage to his political prospects isn't yet clear, the dramatically different outlook is a blow to the 32-year-old Santa Rosa native, whose roots in the Latino community and support among Democratic Party leaders in Sacramento and beyond had given him the lustre of a rising star.

Elected first to the Board of Supervisors in 2008 and re-elected last year, he was widely expected this summer to announce a run for state legislative office. The arrest put a sudden hush to those rumors.

"Last week, there were conversations about what he might run for next year," said Stephen Gale, chairman of the Sonoma County Democratic Party. "I don't think there will be any of those conversations this week."

The fallout was quicker and wider over the weekend because of Carrillo's previous arrest, after a Labor Day street brawl last year outside a San Diego nightclub that left an Arizona man unconscious.

Carrillo said he was defending a group of female friends from a verbally and physically abusive stranger. Prosecutors subsequently reduced and then dropped battery charges against him.

But questions raised then about his off-hours activities surged back with his arrest this weekend, after a woman in his west Santa Rosa neighborhood called 911 at 3:40 a.m. and reported that he tried to break into her home through a bedroom window.

With details still trickling out and legal proceedings ahead, political observers would not say the fallout was catastrophic.

"I think it's too early to say Efren has imploded," said David McCuan, a Sonoma State University political scientist. "But this certainly has put his rise into a stall. His ambitions are plummeting back to earth."

Carrillo's plans for higher office, including a possible run for the state Assembly or Senate, were likely "on hold if not out," McCuan said.

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