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Carrillo's big win a sign of political clout, observers say

Supervisor Efren Carrillo's resounding re-election victory is an unmistakable sign of the political clout he has been able to amass in his first term, observers said Wednesday.

The 31-year-old son of Mexican immigrants captured 59 percent of the vote in the 5th District Supervisorial race, beating back two well-known opponents who challenged his environmental voting record.

His final vote tally was significantly more than the 50 percent majority he needed to avoid a November runoff.

"Efren emerges much stronger and in a much more influential position than 48 hours ago," said Dave McCuan, a Sonoma State University political scientist.

On Wednesday, Carrillo said he was eager to address the key challenges facing the county, including balancing the budget, mitigating effects of the new tribal casino in Rohnert Park and dealing with the county's pension problmes.

"I really think that we must do what we can to save taxpayer dollars to ensure continued quality services," Carrillo said, adding that he and other board members are "committed to negotiating with bargaining units and finding some balance."

McCuan pointed out that voters in San Jose and San Diego on Tuesday gave overwhelming support to proposals that cut retirement benefits for government workers.

"The question is now can (Carrillo) step into that leadership role" to avoid similar ballot measures in Sonoma County, McCuan said.

Jack Buckhorn, president of the North Bay Central Labor Council, said he was confident Carrillo would try to avoid such a conflict. The labor council, which opposed Carrillo four years ago, was a strong supporter this year.

Buckhorn said he believed that concessions on pension benefits could come out of collective bargaining.

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