By BRETT WILKISON
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Sonoma County supervisors took further steps Tuesday in their response to the Andy Lopez shooting, naming most of their appointees to a community task force that will study models for future citizen oversight of local law enforcement.
Supervisors named representatives for nine of the 15 seats they will appoint on the 21-member county-chartered panel. Sheriff Steve Freitas also named his three representatives.
The nominees take in a cross section of the public and private sector, including human rights activists, student leaders, a nonprofit director, a law enforcement official, a former Santa Rosa city attorney, a prominent local academic and a politically active former county supervisor. At least six of those named are Latino.
Supervisors voiced confidence they were on track to form a panel diverse in ethnicity, professional background and geographic representation of the county.
“The board’s intent was to create a robust, full-breadth scope of individuals who best represent as many constituencies or as many facets of our county and community (as possible),” said Supervisor Efren Carrillo. “These are great individuals that do carry the county’s best interests in mind.”
The task force was set in motion last week in a package of actions the Board of Supervisors endorsed to respond to community outcry in the wake of Lopez’s shooting death Oct. 22.
The 13-year-old Santa Rosa boy was shot and killed by Erick Gelhaus, a veteran Sonoma County sheriff’s deputy who reportedly mistook the airsoft BB gun Lopez was carrying for a real assault rifle.
In response, the county last week gave its support to state legislation to more closely regulate the look of BB, pellet and airsoft guns.
Supervisors also backed creating a memorial park in Lopez’s southwest Santa Rosa neighborhood and pledged to boost spending for small businesses and infrastructure in disadvantaged areas.
Their other key initiative, launched this week, will be to break a decades-long logjam with Santa Rosa that’s left much of the city’s southwestern outskirts languishing in county jurisdiction.
Carrillo and Supervisor Shirlee Zane, who will spearhead that effort for the county, said renewed political will and a frank discussion about the funding needed for annexation could clear the standoff.
“That’s the negotiation, really,” Zane said.
“We have to strike while the iron is hot,” Carrillo said.
The community task force is set to make its recommendation on a model of law enforcement oversight as soon as March next year. Its first meeting is scheduled for early January.
Santa Rosa Mayor Scott Bartley has yet to choose his two appointees and District Attorney Jill Ravitch hasn’t decided on her one appointment. Supervisor David Rabbitt withheld making his three choices public Tuesday in case any balancing needed to be done to the panel’s composition. Supervisors Susan Gorin and Mike McGuire did not fill all their seats Tuesday.
The appointees so far include:
From Zane: Robert Edmonds, a police accountability advocate and student trustee at Santa Rosa Junior College; Francisco Vasquez, director of Sonoma State University’s Hutchins Institute for Public Policy Studies and Community Action; and Sylvia Lemus, a former family support officer who now works as an analyst in the county’s Human Resources department.
From Carrillo: Amber Twitchell, a Guerneville resident and executive director of the nonprofit Voices youth center; Irene Rosario, a resident of Lopez’s Moorland Avenue neighborhood and worksite organizer with Service Employees International Union Local 1021; and Eric Koenigshofer, an Occidental attorney and former county supervisor, who is also a close political adviser to Carrillo.
From McGuire: Carolyn Lopez, a Santa Rosa resident and field representative for SEIU Local 1021; and Jose Casteneda, owner of Casteneda’s Market in Windsor.
From Gorin: Brien Farrell, a former Santa Rosa city attorney and retired Elsie Allen High School teacher.
From Freitas: Omar Paz, Jr., Associated Students president at Santa Rosa Junior College; Mark Essick, a sergeant in the Windsor Police Department; and Judy Rice, chairwoman of the Sonoma County Commission on Human Rights.
You can reach Staff Writer Brett Wilkison at 521-5295 or firstname.lastname@example.org.