Sonoma County Supervisor Efren Carrillo has confirmed he is "seriously investigating" a run for the state Assembly seat for the North Coast to be vacated next year by Wes Chesbro.
Carrillo would join two other local candidates, Jim Wood, the Healdsburg city councilman, and John Lowry, the former executive director of Burbank Housing in Santa Rosa, both of whom have said they are running for the Assembly seat. All three are Democrats.
Carrillo, 32, who won his second term on the Board of Supervisors in November, said he had not "committed either way," but suggested a decision on his political future could come within the next few months.
"I do believe that before the summer time frame, folks are going to have to make a decision to be in there or not," Carrillo said of the Assembly race.
Republican party officials in the region said no declared candidates have come forward on their side in the race.
The 2nd District stretches along the coast from the northern half of Santa Rosa to the Oregon border and includes all of Mendocino, Humboldt, Trinity and Del Norte counties.
Chesbro, a veteran state legislator, is termed out of office at the end of next year. The field lining up to replace him — and Carrillo's interest especially — signals what could be the start of a "generational shift" in state representation for the region, said David McCuan, a political science professor at Sonoma State University.
He called the upcoming period of decisions "the invisible primary" before formal contests start for next year's June primary and November general election.
"People are locking up elites, locking up dollars and locking up organizations," he said. "It's not that the political season ever ends. It just takes a pause, and now we're back into it."
Noreen Evans is the wild card in the mix.
The Santa Rosa Democrat is in the middle of her first term as a state senator. But apparently she is undecided about whether to seek re-election next year, though her campaign is raising money for that purpose, with a birthday fundraiser set for April 28.
The uncertainty about her plans — echoed by Evans' friends and Democratic party insiders last week — has left some to wonder if Carrillo wouldn't prefer her Senate seat if she decided not to run.
Carrillo said he wasn't currently considering that prospect, but would weigh running for the seat if Evans didn't.
"What she (Evans) decides triggers a whole bunch of moves down ballot," said McCuan, the SSU political scientist.
Evans, 57, last week called questions about her political future "very premature," saying she wouldn't make a decision until September, at the end of the legislative session.
"I'm busy concentrating on my legislative package," she said.
She has long been interested in a judgeship but wouldn't say if she was still considering that option or any other career move. Chatter about her plans isn't getting to her, she said.
"Nobody has come to me and said &‘I'm interested in your seat, back off,'<TH>" she said.
Chesbro is keeping even closer guard over his thoughts about the future of his Assembly seat. Carrillo and Wood both said they'd talked with Chesbro about the office and 2nd District issues.