Efren Carrillo won’t be leaving his post as Sonoma County Supervisor anytime soon, unless public pressure mounts to a tipping point, says political analyst and Sonoma State University political science professor David McCuan.
His analysis comes despite incredible outrage from the public, his fellow board members and other politicians at Carrillo’s first meeting back on the board after being found not guilty of attempted peeking by a jury last month. At the meeting last week, Supervisors Mike McGuire, Shirlee Zane and Susan Gorin called for Carrillo to step down, and chairman David Rabbit stopped just short of joining them. “We can ask you to resign, but ultimately it’s up to you,” he said.
Even if it were unanimous, the board has no legal recourse here, says McCuan. Rabbit can rearrange Carrillo’s schedule, maybe reshuffle his committee appointments, but “he’s clearly not going to do anything like that,” says McCuan.
What could jeopardize Carrillo’s next two-and-a-half years on the board, says the political analyst, is if his victim in the peeking case, currently known only as Jane Doe, reveals her identity. The victim “giving a personal face to the fear and absolute horror she felt” could raise public ire to the point a recall might be successful. Without that, McCuan speculates, the supervisor may even have a good chance of garnering reelection.
“It’s a long way away and he can raise a ton of money,” he says. “[There’s] a series of professional politicians that are around and behind Efren Carrillo that his opponents don’t have.” Those professionals include personal friend and former U.S. Congressman Doug Bosco, who is also a principle owner of the daily newspaper of record in Sonoma County, the Press Democrat.
Who would replace Carrillo should he face a recall? Sebastopol mayor Robert Jacobs is charismatic, smart and on the rise—but he may be the wrong gender. A recall candidate would likely need to be female to appeal to voters in this case. And even if a recall effort—which would likely cost a quarter-million dollars or more—were gaining strength, Carrillo could just resign, leaving Gov. Jerry Brown to appoint a successor. He might look to a friend who knows the area—Bosco has thrown six-figure fundraisers for the Governor at his Santa Rosa home—for advice. The result could be more of the same, or worse, for progressives in the liberal fifth district who would likely behind a recall.
No matter the case, this story still has legs. A civil trial may be in the works, as the statute of limitations is two years in this case. Carrillo has already divulged he ripped open a woman’s bedroom screen at 3:30am, while he was wearing nothing but underwear and socks, carrying a cell phone and beer, with the intent of sharing a “couple of Plinys” with her. What was on his cell phone camera, and what he did during the 10-minute gap between his knocks on her front door, has yet to be revealed.