Lynn Woolsey's arrival in Congress 20 years ago added a blockbuster chapter to a classic success tale: Former welfare mother ascends to the House in the 'Year of the Woman.'
Efren Carrillo has aspired to be a congressman, presumably he still does. Were he to achieve the goal, it would make for a story easily as compelling as Woolsey's:
In increasingly Hispanic California, the North Bay sends to Capitol Hill a son of Mexican immigrants whose family received the first Habitat for Humanity home built in Sonoma County.
The question of the day is whether Carrillo can still hope to attain a national or statewide office — and, more pressingly, if he can retain his seat on the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors — given his arrest in his underwear and socks early Saturday following a 911 call by a woman who told Santa Rosa police he tried to break into her bedroom.
A QUICK REVIEW of highlights of the Efren Carrillo story to this point.
Born in North Hollywood to undocumented immigrants and future U.S. citizens Efren and Margarita Carrillo in 1981, he lived his first five years in Mexico and arrived in Sonoma County at age 7.
Smart, athletic, handsome, engaging — he mastered English and shined in school and in sports. He was a black belt at 18 and a Santa Rosa High senior when a PD reporter asked what he liked most about martial arts.
"The discipline," Carrillo replied. "It's something to keep you away from trouble, too — that's why my parents got me into it."
HE EXCELLED AT CAL and went to work for the county Economic Development Board, then for Assemblyman Joe Nation, then for Redwood Credit Union.
Ben Stone of the development board called him "a guy with just a natural gift when it comes to social skills."
Nation said, "He just blew me away in terms of his maturity, his delivery."
Carrillo was 25 when Redwood Credit CEO Brett Martinez said he clearly could do whatever he wants. "The sky is the limit for Efren."
CARRILLO WAS 27 when he was sworn onto the Board of Supervisors. He was 32 when he was arrested, cuffed and jailed Saturday morning, the second time in 10 months.
Last time, he came out all right because he got into a fight while defending a group of women friends outside a San Diego nightclub, and no charges were filed. This time, his alleged victim is a woman reported to have told police she only casually knew the undressed man at her window and door.
If Carrillo is to have a prayer for political survival, he must come entirely clean about what he did on Saturday morning, and why.
Having disgraced himself and his family, disappointed his allies and emboldened his critics, Carrillo must reveal his demons and set forth his strategy to rein them in.
If he's not still practicing martial arts he might resume for the same purposes as before — for the discipline, and to keep away from trouble.
Chris Smith is at 521-5211 and firstname.lastname@example.org.