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Groups considering recall of Supervisor Efren Carrillo


Regardless of how his court case turns out, embattled Sonoma County Supervisor Efren Carrillo may face judgment by voters in a recall effort mounted by a powerful labor organization, a liberal political group or a combined effort by both entities.

Legal proceedings against the 32-year-old west county supervisor are on hold for six weeks, following a judge’s approval Friday of the prosecution’s second request for a delay in filing charges, this time until Oct. 11.

In a nine-and-a-half minute prepared statement at his first Board of Supervisors meeting in more than a month, Efren Carrillo pauses as he outlines the remorse of his actions, Tuesday August 20, 2013. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat)

In a nine-and-a-half minute prepared statement at his first Board of Supervisors meeting in more than a month, Efren Carrillo pauses as he outlines the remorse of his actions, Tuesday August 20, 2013. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat)

Carrillo, who was arrested by Santa Rosa police on suspicion of prowling and burglary in mid-July, returned to official duties two weeks ago. He has kept a low profile, declining interviews and curtailing his once-vigorous level of public appearances.

He did not return calls to his district office Friday, and his cellphone voice message mailbox was full Saturday.

Legal experts have suggested that the case against Carrillo may be weak and that prosecutors especially may struggle to sustain a felony conviction that would automatically remove him from office.

But a recall campaign — the only other way to displace a California elected official — rests on the ability of Carrillo’s critics to mount such an effort, which could cost up to $250,000. The ultimate decision would be made by voters.

Within the next three weeks, the North Bay Labor Council’s executive board will meet, most likely on a conference call, to consider a recall, said Jack Buckhorn, president of the council, which includes 65 affiliated unions and labor groups.

Buckhorn said that meeting would occur prior to the board’s next scheduled meeting on Sept. 25.

Council officials are working on a budget for a possible recall “in terms of time and money,” Buckhorn said Friday.

If the executive board opts to back a recall, the matter would be put to a vote by the council’s affiliates, he said.

A month ago, the labor council and the Sonoma, Lake & Mendocino Building and Construction Trades Council jointly called on Carrillo to resign, and Buckhorn said at the time they would await the supervisor’s Friday court date to decide on a recall.

The call for a resignation was not based on the outcome of a criminal prosecution, Buckhorn said Friday.

“We believe his resignation is in order based on his bad behavior and poor judgment,” he said.

Carrillo was arrested in the early morning of July 13 after a woman called 911 to report someone outside her home near Stony Point Road and West Third Street.

She reported someone tried to get into her bedroom window. The woman called 911 again 10 minutes later to say the person had knocked on her front door, identified himself as a neighbor and ran away.

Officers arrived and found a torn window screen. Carrillo was in the area, clad in just socks and underwear, carrying a cellphone. He was arrested when he could not provide a clear explanation for his behavior, police said.

At the time, police said they believed he planned to commit some type of sexual assault, but they haven’t said what led to that conclusion.

Officers have said that Carrillo appeared intoxicated during their early morning questioning but not drunk on a level that would make it unlawful. They did not test his drunkenness in the field or measure his blood-alcohol content.

Carrillo’s advisers have said that alcohol played a role in the July arrest as well as one a year ago, when Carrillo was arrested after a fight outside a San Diego nightclub. Local authorities didn’t press charges in that case.

After his more recent arrest, Carrillo posted bail within a few hours and reportedly checked into an alcohol treatment facility, where he remained in seclusion for five weeks.

Buckhorn, the labor leader, disputed whether that makes any difference. “On a personal level, I hope he gets the help he needs,” Buckhorn said. “On a political level, I believe his days are numbered.”

Alice Chan, a Democratic Party activist from Sebastopol, reiterated Friday the intention of a liberal group to pursue a recall.

If Carrillo does not resign by Sept. 15, Chan said, the Coalition for Grassroots Progress, which she helps lead, will launch a recall effort the following day.

Chan, who announced that plan a month ago, said Friday that Carrillo has had “sufficient time to consider his actions and his future in politics.”

Carrillo, once considered a rising star in local and state Democratic politics, got endorsements and financial support from labor in his re-election last year, when he captured 59 percent of the primary election vote and avoided a runoff. Before his arrest, he had been widely expected to announce a run for state Assembly.

He is up for re-election to his current post in 2016.

But liberal Democrats have not favored Carrillo, and Chan’s coalition is an outgrowth of progressive favorite Norman Solomon’s 2012 campaign for Congress.

The coalition maintains an email list of 14,000 supporters, who live in the North Bay or along the North Coast, Chan said.

Official proponents of a recall and people who sign a recall petition must be registered voters in Carrillo’s district.

Organized labor has the resources to mount a recall, which the progressives might join and form a “blue-green alliance,” said David McCuan, a Sonoma State University political scientist.

A successful recall costs $200,000 to $250,000, with the major expense involved in promoting the effort after it qualifies for the ballot, he said.

Recalls of local officials are common around the nation, and California’s best-known recall was the unseating of former Gov. Gray Davis in 2003.

“Efren’s problem is much more political than legal,” McCuan said.

Carrillo’s prospects of running for a state legislative office are dim, he said, but barring a successful recall he may have a future as a supervisor, a job that pays $150,000 a year and has no term limits.

“Three years (remaining in Carrillo’s current term) is a long time to go about your political rehabilitation,” McCuan said.

Critics are questioning whether Carrillo’s low profile amounts to adequate performance in office.

Susan Upchurch, his district director, said Carrillo will continue to attend board meetings and work full days in his office, including meetings with constituents.

Carrillo, who has said he is enrolled in an outpatient treatment program for alcoholism, leaves work every day for appointments at Kaiser Permanente and is not making public appearances, Upchurch said.

“He’s back to work and focusing on his recovery,” she said.

Supervisor Susan Gorin, who questioned whether Carrillo was fit to continue holding office a month ago, said Friday she thinks Carrillo “can function effectively” under his curtailed routine.

Supervisors “have a fair amount of autonomy” in defining their jobs, and other board members “don’t have a lot of leverage,” she said.

Board Chairman David Rabbitt said he thinks Carrillo has been performing his duties.

Rabbitt said he has received numerous e-mails asking the supervisors to remove Carrillo and has answered them by saying they lack that authority.

With no direct evidence of Carrillo’s alleged illegal behavior, Rabbitt said the board cannot pursue a censure, which requires a judicial-type procedure.

Meanwhile, Carrillo’s friends said he is handling his job appropriately.

“I think he needs to take care of himself right now,” said Martin Webb, a former Analy High School principal and volunteer on Carrillo’s campaigns. “I think the voters of west county are very forgiving and recognize that he needs time to get treatment.”

Noting that some critics are blaming Carrillo for the delays in his court case, Webb said he thinks Carrillo would prefer a prompt disposition.

“I think that Efren wanted to get this thing going as soon as possible so we’d come to some conclusion on it,” Webb said.

Herman Hernandez, a Guerneville real estate broker, said the Carrillo has brought “dedication and passion and energy” to his job for the past five years.

“There are always bumps and distractions in life,” he said. “We dust ourselves off and move forward.”

State law gives 2 ways that leader can be removed from office

There are only two ways a local elected official, such as a county supervisor, can be removed from office: by voter-initiated recall or by felony conviction.

Recall “is the power of the voters to remove elected officials before their terms expire,” the California Secretary of State’s office says.

“It has been a fundamental part of our governmental system since 1911 and has been used by voters to express their dissatisfaction with their elected representatives,” it says.

A notice of intention, required to initiate a recall, must contain: the name and title of the official to be recalled; a statement, in 200 words or less, of the reasons for recall; and the printed name, signature, and address of each of the recall proponents.

Courts have held that a recall ballot also must give voters the choice of a replacement.

To recall Supervisor Efren Carrillo, proponents would need signatures from 20 percent of his district’s 47,551 registered voters, or about 9,510 signatures.

Recall proponents, who must be registered voters in the official’s district, typically hire signature gatherers at a cost of $2 to $3 per signature.

California Government Code Section 1770 says that a political office “becomes vacant” for a variety of reasons, including the official’s “conviction of a felony or of any offense involving a violation of his or her official duties.”

The removal is automatic, and the governor appoints a successor.

The disqualification from holding office upon conviction is not stayed by either the filing of an appeal or success in the appeal process.

(You can reach Staff Writer Guy Kovner at 521-5457 or guy.kovner@pressdemocrat.com.)

11 Responses to “Groups considering recall of Supervisor Efren Carrillo”

  1. West county Resident says:

    I am really sorry I voted for this guy to represent me here in west sonoma conty.I would NOT VOTE for some one with this in their past nor do I want some body with this poor judgment represtining me.
    And I am an Alcoholic so I know how much time I have to put in to be sober every day.All mr carillo is thinking about is his fat pay check and Penision and of course life time medical or he would step down.
    If he was a true champion he would resign and take care of him self if he is a TRUE Alcoholic .I’m not really sure if he is or just claiming he is so he can cover up his poor and Illegal Behavior.

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  2. Rick says:

    I am scared to think what people will sweep under the rug to support their politician.

    Everything about a politician is political. From their taxes to their burglary/sex crimes arrests.

    Your thinking is very popular in the prison system.

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  3. Paul says:

    Brian P.,
    Jumping the gun? How? The criminal process is playing itself out, SLOWLY. Meanwhile, Brian, consider the FACT that this is not some guitarist from a rock band out prowling at night in Santa Rosa or knocking people down in San Diego. It’s not some radio personality on a bender; it’s AN ELECTED OFFICIAL. (apologies to guitarists and radio personalities)
    Give me ONE good reason, Brian, that I should accept this type of behavior from an elected official being paid with my AND YOUR tax money. Let’s hear it.
    I’m unhappy, too, about his little speech. He seems to feel that being flat out ABSENT from his job poses no setback for this duties. In my life I had jobs in a couple of fields, and never was I able to just leave my job for weeks on end while somebody else just covered for me, AND I COLLECTED A PAYCHECK.
    And let’s remember, this job of Efren’s pays real well and has serious benefits and retirement. You call this behavior acceptable for a job like this? Explain yourself.
    AGAIN; elected official, not a sports star. Got that, Brain? Er, Brian.

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  4. Jesus says:

    I agree with “Brain P” Efren is such a caring guy. I mean , when he’s not getting drunk and assaulting people or braking into women’s homes to rape them, he’s really a nice guy and a shining example of the community of west Santa Rosa. Never mind all the negative comments and petitions, the don’t exist . He has soooo much support

    Who would thought that some kid with no real world experience, who essentially is being used as a puppet for the corrupt status quo of Sonoma County politics, could be such an effective leader? Since Efrens’ been representing west Santa Rosa they have flowery meadows and rainbow skies and rivers made of chocolate, where the children dance and laugh and play with gumdrop smiles.

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  5. Keep up the pressure…..he needs to resign or face a recall…please sign the petition asking him to resign here:


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  6. Brian P….

    Keep repeatin’ the same tired old lines – ad nauseum, over and over again, and some people just might start to believe them.

    Also, it is YOU who has been flooding many of the Comment boards.

    If you think you are going to “trick” us, you are mistaken in that notion.

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  7. Emerson Burkett says:

    Well, why are they only “considering” a recall? Let’s get in on, lets do it. Remove the Scumbag now.

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  8. GAJ says:

    Can’t find a Code of Ethics on the Supervisors’ website.


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  9. Brian P. says:

    This recall talk is really jumping the gun, and if it does happen, it will be for political reasons, not because of this “incident,” but instead, capitalizing on it.

    So many people in our community are saying that Efren has earned the benefit of the doubt, and clearly deserves a chance to present the facts before an impartial judge. Until then, none of us can possibly know what happened. There is no reason to assume the worst and jump to conclusions.

    First of all, it’s highly unlikely that the deep-pocketed labor groups who are opposing Efren will be able to stir up enough negativity and finger-pointing to get the votes they need for a recall…they’re trying hard to flood the comments section with personal attacks against Efren. Even if the labor groups do try to play on peoples’ emotions and “trick” them into voting recall, I think those in our community are smart enough to see what’s really going on, and wise enough to do what’s best for our community.

    The Efren I know is a caring, committed, authentic, accessible champion for our community, and many (if not most) others in our community feel that his turnaround is for real and that he’ll be an even better champion for the individuals and families in our county as a result.

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  10. Tom says:

    LMAO at this article!!! Labor groups “consider” recall of Carrillo. Consider,lol? Let’s call this what it is, Labor Groups “shakedown Carillo and his supporters”. I’m no fan of Carillo, he should be removed from office, hes scum. But God forbid big labor does something because its the right thing or moral. If that were the case ,they would have already started the process without this threatening “what have you done for us lately or else” article in the paper.

    Trust me, if “The night stalker” cuts the right concessions, the Union probably wont “consider” this recall anymore. 250K for the recall or 100s of millions of dollars in pensions for Carrillo and union concessions. Most tax payers would take the 250K.

    Also, I do like like the change.org petition but it is pretty much useless. It takes one person to start the official process and you dont need corrupts unions to do it!

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