Two influential labor coalitions Wednesday called for Sonoma County Supervisor Efren Carrillo to resign, saying he has displayed "a pattern of poor choices and bad behavior" that have brought "shame and discredit" on the county and that he can no longer effectively represent his district or residents countywide.
The call for Carrillo to step down is the first by entities with a major role in local politics.
Together, the North Bay Labor Council and the Sonoma, Lake & Mendocino Building and Construction Trades Council represent about 60,000 workers in public and private-sector unions and labor organizations across the region. Both coalitions endorsed Carrillo in 2012. They and their affiliated unions donated more than $13,000 dollars to his successful re-election campaign.
But conduct that led to his July 13 arrest on suspicion of burglary and prowling — behavior that his four fellow county supervisors condemned in a public meeting Tuesday — "have brought such shame and derision to the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors that he can no longer fulfill his duties as required," the groups said Wednesday in a written statement.
"While it is an unpleasant reality, the facts are such that Supervisor Carrillo has become a liability to the county instead of an asset," the groups said. "We respectfully request that Supervisor Carrillo focus on resolving his personal issues and put the needs and best interests of the voters in District 5 and the County of Sonoma and its Board of Supervisors ahead of his own and resign his position."
The stance — the result of membership votes taken by both groups according to one of their leaders — could trigger similar calls by other organizations that have backed Carrillo in the past. Some of his sharpest critics, including liberal Democratic activists, already have called for him to step down and vowed to press ahead with a recall should he not resign.
Jack Buckhorn, president of the North Bay Labor Council and secretary-treasurer of the tri-county Building Trades Council, said the two groups would wait until Carrillo's Aug. 30 court date before making a decision to form or join any recall effort. They would have substantial financial resources at their disposal should they take that step.
The groups' call also could put stronger pressure on the Sonoma County Democratic Party to take a position on Carrillo's immediate future as an officeholder. A son of Mexican immigrants and a rising star in the state party, he was widely expected before his arrest to announce a bid next year for a seat in the state Legislature. Those rumors evaporated after his latest arrest, his second in 10 months.
Carrillo's current legal woes notwithstanding, opposition from the two labor coalitions represents another formidable obstacle to any bid by the embattled supervisor to hold on to his county seat. He is next up for election in 2016.
One local political expert said he was surprised the call for Carrillo's resignation had not happened sooner.
Now that it has, said David McCuan, a Sonoma State University political scientist, both it and the criticism from the Board of Supervisors could "provide political cover" to other supporters considering withdrawing their endorsement or calling for his resignation.
"The key development here is whether or not there is a domino effect with other groups," McCuan said. "Does this open the door to subsequent groups rolling out an indictment of Carrillo before his court hearing?"