For years, Efren Carrillo has been a “career day” regular at Sonoma County schools.
At campuses such as Roseland Accelerated Middle School in Santa Rosa and Cali Calmécac Language Academy in Windsor, the member of the county Board of Supervisors took seriously his job as an inspirational role model, always encouraging young Latino students to work hard and make the most of their parents' sacrifices — just as he has done.
Carrillo's story has resonated with countless children growing up in Sonoma County's immigrant communities, from college-bound students to at-risk gang wannabes. He chided them to do better in school, cleaned up garbage and graffiti alongside them and connected with them on a personal level few others in public office could.
For some of these young people, the arrest of the county's first Latino supervisor — on suspicion of prowling and burglary with the intent to commit sexual assault — is troubling on a personal level.
“He was like my idol,” said Melina Rivera, 18, a Windsor High School graduate who will attend Sonoma State University in the fall.
Rivera said Carrillo visited her AVID, Advancement Via Individual Determination, class a few months ago to talk to students to about their goals and relate his experiences.
“I heard his story and got really inspired,” she said. “I was like, 'Oh my God. I want to be like him, I want to have a future and be like him.'”
Carrillo, wearing just underwear and socks, was arrested near his west Santa Rosa home in the pre-dawn hours of July 13 after a nearby resident called 911 to report that someone was trying to get into her home through her bedroom window.
He is scheduled to be arraigned Aug. 30 after being arrested on suspicion of burglary with what Santa Rosa police said was an intent to commit some sort of sexual offense.
Carrillo issued a statement describing the incident as “embarrassing” and one that “involved alcohol.”