PD Editorial: Supervisors seek distance from Efren Carrillo

  • 5th District Supervisor Efren Carrillo's chair sits empty during the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors' meeting in Santa Rosa, California on Tuesday, July 30, 2013. (BETH SCHLANKER/ The Press Democrat)

One chair sat empty when Sonoma County's supervisors convened Tuesday following their summer recess.

That seat belongs to Efren Carrillo, whose last public appearance was in front of a judge. Carrillo is currently in an alcohol-treatment program while waiting to learn whether criminal charges will be filed against him.

He was arrested July 13, dressed only in his undershorts and socks, and accused of trying to break into a young woman's apartment at 3 a.m. As if all that isn't bad enough, Santa Rosa police said the incident "contained the elements of attempted sexual assault."

A felony conviction would result in automatic removal from office.

Even if Carrillo doesn't forfeit his seat, his career is in shambles. On Tuesday, a west county group delivered an ultimatum: Resign by Sept. 15 or face a recall. Meanwhile, the unsparing remarks by his board colleagues showed that they're in no hurry to see him reclaim his place at the dais.

The supervisors talked about Carrillo's "serious problems" and "addictive behavior." They emphasized the right to feel secure at home. All four expressed concern for the victim — "a woman," as Supervisor David Rabbitt noted, "who was so frightened that she called 911 not once but twice."

Rabbitt added: "Elected officials should not put themselves in compromising situations, whether ultimately criminal or not."

Supervisor Susan Gorin noted that, in similar circumstances, a county employee would face dismissal. "I hold elected officials to an even higher standard than that," she said.

Supervisor Shirlee Zane said she hopes Carrillo "finds three things: empathy for women, sincere remorse and repentance."

A month ago, Carrillo's future looked promising. Easily re-elected in 2012, he was a leading candidate for a legislative seat next year. Today, he's another politician suffering from self-inflected wounds.

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