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Smith: Onetime wunderkind Efren Carrillo should step down

  • Supervisor Efren Carrillo talks with the press after a not guilty verdict was handed down at his trial. (KENT PORTER / The Press Democrat)

I helped to create Efren Carrillo Jr.

All I mean by that is that stories I and my PD colleagues wrote about Carrillo when he was in his 20s and sharply ascendent contributed to his public persona as someone clearly extraordinary and going places.

Here are quotes and observations from early stories that former reporters Rayne Wolfe and Chris Coursey and I wrote about the son of once-undocumented immigrants who distinguished himself rapidly at Santa Rosa High School, in martial arts, at Cal and then in Sonoma County business/political circles:

“He's ... one of the community's brightest young stars.”

“He just blew me away in terms of his maturity, his delivery.”

“Smart, smooth, he handles himself just beautifully.”

As a student struck by all that his parents did for him and his siblings, Carrillo resolved, “I'm not going to disappoint them.”

Every word we wrote about the young man who spent most of his first 5 years in Mexico and at just 27 was elected to the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors was true. Since then, circumstances have confirmed that far lesser assessments of aspects of his character also are true.

THE DUST HAS SETTLED from the criminal-court trial that found Carrillo not guilty of peeping into a female neighbor's apartment, but left no doubt that what he did shortly before 4 a.m. last July 13 was despicable and darkly revealing.

Now self-damaged goods, Carrillo is legally entitled to remain in office for the remaining two-plus years of his second term.

But things get done in government, as in business and all arenas of human endeavor, mostly through relationships and trust. And some of the colleagues and constituents necessary to Carrillo's success as a leader now regard him as a pariah.

Thirty-three days ago, every one of his four fellow supervisors urged him to resign. Five days ago, members of the Santa Rosa City Council called unanimously for him to be removed from the board of directors of Sonoma Clean Power.

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