WatchSonoma Watch

Carrillo mulls run for Assembly; Wood, Lowry already in race


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.

Efren Carrillo.

Efren Carrillo.

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.”

Jim Wood

Jim Wood

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.

John Lowry.

John Lowry.

“Nobody has come to me and said ‘I’m interested in your seat, back off,’” 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.

But Chesbro declined an interview through a spokesman last week. “He doesn’t want to talk about any potential successors to his seat,” said Andrew Bird. “He just wants to stay away from that.”

Wood, 53, is a dentist who has served six years on the Healdsburg council. He was first into the contest late last year and had raised $51,000 by December, campaign finance reports show.

He added $30,000 or so recently, he said, and garnered endorsements from a handful of Sonoma County officials, including two of Carrillo’s fellow boardmembers — Mike McGuire and Susan Gorin — and District Attorney Jill Ravitch.

“I want people to see I’m serious about this,” Wood said.

Lowry, 65, who retired in September after 14 years leading Burbank Housing, the low-income housing developer, said he intends to launch his campaign in June.

The Assembly race also has drawn interest from at least two other North Coast figures: Hezekiah Allen, a Mendocino County environmentalist who leads the Mattole Restoration Council and Humboldt County Supervisor Mark Lovelace.

Lovelace, who holds Chesbro’s former seat on the Humboldt County board, said last week that he had not ruled out a run but that he was not “actively considering it.”

Carrillo said he was approached by “a few individuals and groups, both locally and out of Sacramento” about the race. He declined to say whom.

Sources said polling has been conducted in the sprawling district on his behalf, testing his name recognition among likely voters. Carrillo said he was not aware of any polling but did say that he has “looked at” likely voters in the region. The majority are clustered in Sonoma and Humboldt counties.

“Anybody who comes out of Sonoma is going to have work to do getting out to know those communities (to the north),” Carrillo said.

Wood said that was one of the reasons he entered the race early.

“I hope to erase any disparity with hard work and shoe leather,” he said.

(You can reach Staff Writer Brett Wilkison at 521-5295 or brett.wilkison@pressdemocrat.com.)

12 Responses to “Carrillo mulls run for Assembly; Wood, Lowry already in race”

  1. Bart Regan says:

    Efren Carrillo cares about one person in his district- and that person is Efren Carrillo. He was put in office by Doug Bosco and his rich friends to continue feathering their nests at the expense of taxpayers and they want to send him to Sacramento. Doug Bosco got Efren out of trouble during his arrest for assault and he thinks he has the money to get him into the California Assembly. The dirty little secret is that for all that they try to market their token Hispanic, he is not well liked or trusted in his own community. Hispanics know an opportunist when they see one

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  2. R.B. Fish says:

    It doesn’t make any difference. Neither are of leadership quality. The Democratic machine will determine who will win and award the nose ring. Unfortunately, the Republicans and Libertians are non-players.

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  3. Buddy Bear says:

    Wood wants to be an Assemblyman

    Carrillo wants a promotion

    Vote for who wants to do the job, not someone who simply requires more prestige.

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  4. Well Informed says:

    I think he has a fighting chance.

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  5. Elephant says:

    Snarky – I most certainly do not vote along any party lines. I am more a Democrat than a Republican but I find the party drifting too far right for my taste. I have voted for Republicans (and other parties) when I saw them better for the people. And seeing wanna-be career politicians like Carillo pretending to be Democrats makes me ill.

    I do my research and meet the candidates myself whenever possible. I don’t believe everything that I read in the newspaper, especially this one. I’d like to think that we would be better off if more people did that as well. And I readily respect a difference of opinion from anybody who makes a thoroughly informed choice.

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  6. Grapevines says:

    Useless at the job he’s doing now, might as well go where that is considered to be an asset!!

    Just look at Noreen Evans.

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  7. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    I won’t vote for Efren under any circumstances. Neither will county employees. They’ve had enough of his contempt for them.

    I know many hispanics who live in Roseland and who work with me who are infuriated with him for not supporting their district except when he wants their votes. He’s the product of big business and IT’S QUITE OBVIOUS.

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  8. Ruben says:

    Carillo is a thug. He will play politics and sell us all out. Who will he beat up next. He is an embarrassment to Sonoma county and a liar.

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  9. Snarky says:

    So, uh, Elephant.

    Is that how you really vote?

    You actually just vote by party affiliation rather than by an individuals position of important public problems?

    The first thing anyone should view is Carrillo’s trouble with an arrest in San Diego. Although the government down there gave him a break and backed off on threats of prosecution, that was merely what has been called, “professional courtesy” from one public agency to another.

    After that, voters should view positions on such things as pot holes, poorly maintained parks, poorly performing schools, etc.

    To vote “party line” is for amatures who can’t think for themselves.

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  10. Luther Burbank says:

    Efren? Oh, puh-lease! The man is the one of the most useless politicians around, in a world of useless politicians. He cares nothing for anyone who won’t further his career, and even then he can’t be counted on. Everything he does is calculated, nothing is about values or passion. He needs to just go away.

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  11. Steveguy says:

    The race is on ! Who can get bought the most ?

    Why so early ? Because they want to get bought big-time and time is money !

    The ” Non-profits” are lining up with the cash, along with consultants, special interests and outright crooks. Politicians are bought cheap, similar to copper thieves that get pennies on the dollar for their stolen goods.

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  12. Elephant says:

    Anybody else surprised that Carillo calls himself a Democrat? Well we have plenty of Democrats In Name Only (DINO’s)around here. It’s pretty much the only way they can get elected.

    The “real” Democratic money already seems behind Jim Wood. Look for the money and support that typically goes to Republican candidates to go to Carillo. After all, that tactic worked fine for Jared Huffman.

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