By BRETT WILKISON
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Critics of embattled Sonoma County Supervisor Efren Carrillo forcefully renewed their call for his resignation at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, prompting Carrillo to later say that he is not currently planning to step down.
Carrillo’s critics said his continued service in elected office tarnished the county’s reputation and left his constituents without an effective representative.
“The 5th District deserves but doesn’t have a fully functioning representative now,” said Alice Chan, a Sebastopol-based Democratic Party activist. “His continued presence on this board is an embarrassment to us and to Sonoma County.”
Should he not resign, it is almost certain he would face a recall effort, critics said.
The comments, echoed by about a dozen speakers, many of them either outright Carrillo opponents or newly emerged critics, came in Carrillo’s second Board of Supervisors meeting since his July 13 arrest on suspicion of prowling and burglary.
Carrillo responded in a brief interview late Tuesday evening, saying he had no current plans to give up his county job.
“That’s a decision I’m not prepared to make at this time,” he said. “I’m focusing on the work before me, and my intention is not focused on the distractions but rather the performance of my job while still tending to the early stages of my recovery.”
The response, the first extended, unscripted comments about his plans and his daily work schedule since his return to county business last month, came hours after his most vocal critics made a public display of their push against the 32-year-old supervisor.
Wearing bright yellow stickers that read “Resign, Put the 5th District First,” one speaker after another came to the podium during the board’s afternoon public comment period to urge the second-term west county supervisor to step down.
“It would be impossible, Mr. Carrillo, for you to represent me on any issue, on any day,” said Lee Leibrock, a Forestville resident. “You have lost your constituency.”
Leibrock said later in an interview that he had voted for Carrillo’s opponents in both the 2008 and 2012 elections.
Others who spoke out Tuesday have previously been aligned with Carrillo’s political rivals.
Carrillo offered no immediate response. Later, in the interview, he echoed his prepared statement at the Board of Supervisors meeting three weeks ago, saying that much of the criticism directed towards him since his arrest was “well-deserved and justified.”
He said had read emails sent by constituents, including those speaking Tuesday, expressing criticism of his actions.
“I do not cast blame on anyone for that criticism,” he said.
He gave a rebuttal, however, to claims by critics that he remains largely inaccessible and out of public sight.
He said he was working from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., maintaining regular office hours, meeting with county officials and constituents and “starting to attend community events and functions.”
“I don’t think I’ve received any specific requests that I have not met or responded to affecting the 5th District or the county,” he said.
Carrillo has denied previous interview requests relating to his criminal case. On Tuesday he again said he would not comment on the circumstances surrounding his arrest.
In the early morning of July 13, police detained him outside a Santa Rosa woman’s home in just his socks and underwear. Officers later said the incident, including a freshly torn screen on the woman’s bedroom window, had the marks of an intended attempt at some type of sexual assault.
“I cannot comment on any aspect of that,” he said.
Prosecutors last month asked for a second postponement, until Oct. 11, to determine whether he will face charges.
Since reentering public life two weeks ago, Carrillo has continued to seek medical treatment for what he described as a longtime problem with binge drinking. He said he spent five weeks in an alcohol treatment program immediately after his arrest.
But his most vocal critics said Tuesday’s turnout was meant as a counterpoint to Carrillo’s admission of alcoholism and an attempt to put focus back on the reported details of his arrest and his alleged victim.
“The real victim is not Supervisor Efren Carrillo and the alleged criminal is not the disease of alcoholism,” said Karen Fraser, a Rohnert Park resident who helped organize the protest.
“We feel that the community is buying into Efren Carrillo as a victim of alcoholism and that alcoholism caused the behavior,” Fraser added later in an interview. The “real victim,” she said, is the woman who twice called 911, leading to Carrillo’s arrest.
Liberal Democratic Party activists and organized labor leaders say they are continuing to plan for a recall should Carrillo not resign.
One group, the Coalition for Grassroots Progress, has given him until Sunday to step down.
“We’re preparing to be ready to act if the deadline passes and he has not resigned,” said Chan, the Democratic Party activist from Sebastopol.
Jack Buckhorn, president of the North Bay Labor Council, a coalition that could provide financial and political backing for any recall, said the group would not decide on its next move until at least the end of this month.
“There’s going to be a recall,” Buckhorn said. “It’s just a question of how much coordination and how many partners it will have.”
Asked about those planning to unseat him from office, Carrillo insisted he was not focused on responding to a possible recall effort.
“My focus is on the work before me,” he said. “That’s what my focus has been and will continue to be.”
You can reach Staff Writer Brett Wilkison at 521-5295 or email@example.com.