WatchSonoma Watch

Labor groups call on Supervisor Efren Carrillo to resign


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.

Sonoma County Supervisor Efren Carrillo leaves after facing Judge Gary Medvigy at a hearing at the Sonoma County Superior Court in Santa Rosa on Thursday, July 18, 2013. (BETH SCHLANKER/ PD)

Sonoma County Supervisor Efren Carrillo leaves after facing Judge Gary Medvigy at a hearing at the Sonoma County Superior Court in Santa Rosa on Thursday, July 18, 2013. (BETH SCHLANKER/ PD)

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?”

Carrillo’s July 13 arrest came after a pair of 911 calls from a woman in his west Santa Rosa neighborhood reporting that a man — later identified as the 32-year-old Carrillo, according to police — had tried to break into her home through a bedroom window.

Police, who arrested Carrillo in just his underwear and socks, have said the incident — which resulted in a torn screen on the woman’s bedroom window — had the marks of an attempt at some type of sexual assault.

Carrillo after his arrest issued a two-sentence statement calling his behavior “embarrassing,” saying it involved alcohol and that he was seeking professional treatment. His attorney, Chris Andrian, has suggested the young politician was hoping to share beers with the woman around 3 a.m., before his arrest.

Aside from an initial July 18 court appearance, Carrillo has since dropped out of public life, an absence that may extend to mid-August. Andrian and Carrillo’s political advisers say he is in a Northern California rehabilitation facility for help with a drinking problem.

The Sonoma County Democratic Party central committee is set to discuss Carrillo’s situation at its Aug. 13 meeting, said Stephen Gale, the party chairman.

“This would be a topic that would be up for discussion regardless of whether any other organization takes action,” Gale said. “I’m sure that we will be discussing these recent events in closed session. I can’t say what we either will or will not be doing.”

Buckhorn, the North Bay Labor Council president, when asked why the labor groups were pushing for Carrillo’s resignation before any decision by prosecutors to press charges, said the coalitions wanted to “take a leadership role.”

“We believe we have a responsibility to say what’s on the mind of our members, and we believe our members deserve full-time representation” on the county board, he said.

The Labor Council — the largest in the North Bay, including 65 affiliated unions and labor groups — has clashed with Carrillo in the past year, notably over a disputed policy that would have required union rules, benefits and oversight for all workers on large county construction projects. Last September, Carrillo voted with a three-member board majority to reject the blanket policy, citing disadvantages to some nonunion workers and overly complicated bidding on county projects.

Carrillo’s stance, on a key initiative for organized labor, nearly fueled a push for his recall in the aftermath of his Labor Day arrest last year outside a San Diego nightclub. Charges stemming from his involvement in a street brawl were later dropped.

“If those charges in San Diego (persisted), we would have gone ahead with a recall,” Buckhorn said.

He denied the latest challenge to Carrillo was purely political, citing recent support he said the supervisor had voiced for the union-rules policy, known as project-labor agreements.

“If it were all about politics, it would be smart for me to hope that this would blow over,” Buckhorn said. “But the seriousness of those (allegations) demands a response and for us to be leaders.”

The Labor Council’s largest affiliates include the Service Employees International Union and California Nurses Association — both of which abstained from the resignation votes, according to Buckhorn — the Teamsters, United Healthcare Workers, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and International Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters.

The Sonoma, Lake & Mendocino Building and Construction Trades Council represents about 20 affiliated unions, including the Operating Engineers, Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association and Northern California Carpenters Regional Council.

(News Researcher Janet Balicki contributed to this report. You can reach Staff Writer Brett Wilkison at 521-5295 or brett.wilkison@pressdemocrat.com.)

14 Responses to “Labor groups call on Supervisor Efren Carrillo to resign”

  1. Emerson Burkett says:

    LOL, just had to share this, from Thur. 8/8/2013 Letters to the Editor (PD).
    “Time to depart”
    “EDITOR: What the majority of us need to hear from the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors chamber is, ‘Efren has left the building’”. Per Stan Buck, Guerneville.
    Succinctly says it all.

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  2. Henry Bernard says:

    Recently heard a rumor that Jovan Will, the man knocked unconscious in San Diego, might be coming forward with a public statement as to what occurred that night. This might add an interesting twist.

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  3. bear says:

    What happened to Rue Furch? She lost a close election, but she’s still the most qualified alternative for 5th District supervisor.

    She was on the Planning Commission for decades, so she knows exactly what the issues are.

    And she is a good person.

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  4. You can sign the petition here to ask for Carrillo’s resignation…


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  5. BigDogatPlay says:

    Labor has turned on him. Now if the other members of the board would actually take a stand perhaps then Mr. Carillo would do the right thing, step down and go earn a living on the economy like the rest of us have to.

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  6. RecallCarrillo@gmail.com says:

    We are business owners, community activists, children, and all other demographics of people from the 5th District who have united against these inexcusable act by, Carrillo.

    Please join our cause as it is yours too. If you know of community groups, or business groups that are involved in the wellness of our community please send me their organization name, with whom we should speak to, and if we may use you as a reference.

    Our names do not matter, your money igs not good here! We defend the priceless honor of our home for the nameless victim of tomorrow.

    We are grassroots to the soil! We are not an established political machine. We are committed to our just cause and shall not be deterred, please help!!!!!

    Your money is no good here, and our names do not need to be known as we do it for the nameless victim.

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  7. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    Over Easy-you are presuming that the labor unions support Efren. The one I’m a member of DOES NOT. Despite his childhood background, Efren is supported by big business in this county and big business is not interested in the middleclass or the poor.

    My union supported Rue Furch because she WOULD HAVE SUPPORTED ROSELAND.

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  8. Larry Watkins says:

    Being a peeping Tom does not look good on the resume of a want-a-be politician. Walking around in public in the middle of the night in your underpants carrying beer cans qualifies you for the title of disturbed personality.

    Not good for elected office or a leadership role in local or state government.

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  9. District 5 citizen says:

    Please resign, Effren. If you care at all about this district, resign. You’re embarrassing us and yourself. Start rebuilding your honor and dignity by stepping down.

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  10. Emerson Burkett says:

    “Captain Underpants”!!! BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

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  11. Elephant says:

    And the hits just keep on coming.

    Like the BoS response, this is very well scripted and choreographed. In truth, it’s just spin to cover their behinds for endorsing Carrillo in the first place. I am dying to read about one of Carrillo’s supporters/endorsers saying “I messed up by trusting him when I shouldn’t have”. These folks need to take responsibility for their actions too.

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  12. Big Jim says:

    Time for “Captain Underpants” to step aside and let a person with honor represent us!

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  13. Emerson Burkett says:

    Goodbye Efren,
    The calls for your resignation are becoming a tsunami that will sweep you from office; not unlike useless driftwood being swept off the beach. Goodbye and good riddance; you are fouling the air of Sonoma County.

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  14. Over Easy says:


    It has been my experience that Labor groups usually lobby hard to keep their members and appointees jobs even if they really messed up.

    Efren’s continued immaturity prevents him from doing the right thing by stepping aside.

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