Daily Breeze, Torrance, Calif.
Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo, one of the more high-profile candidates aiming for the Los Angeles City Council seat held by Councilmember Kevin de León, was arrested Friday, Nov. 3, on suspicion of driving under the influence.
That leaves open the question of what impact her arrest might have on the 43-year-old Democrat’s chances of winning in the highly contested Council District 14 race. About a dozen people have indicated interest in challenging de Leon, who is seeking reelection despite criticism over the past year for his role in a racist backroom meeting that was secretly taped and leaked to media.
As a state lawmaker, Carrillo entered the race with the benefit of name recognition. Through Sept. 30, she had raised more money than any other candidate for the 14th Council District except Assemblymember Miguel Santiago, according to the city’s ethics commission.
Carrillo issued a statement following her arrest, acknowledging that she had been involved “in a traffic incident involving parked vehicles.”
“Thankfully, no one was harmed, and I have been cooperating with law enforcement. As a public servant, I am aware that I must adhere to a higher standard that demands personal accountability for my conduct and I accept responsibility for my actions. I sincerely apologize to my family, constituents, colleagues and staff for any actions of mine that have fallen short of that expectation,” Carrillo stated, adding that she intends to seek help and support.
“As I do so, I remain dedicated to my family, my constituents and the community that I grew up in and am proud to represent,” she said.
Carrillo was taken into custody after officers went to the 6200 block of Monterey Road on a report of a traffic collision involving a motorist who had run into parked vehicles, to Sgt. Hector Guzman of the Los Angeles Police Department said.
Carrillo was booked on suspicion of DUI, according to the LAPD. Jail records show she was arrested around 1:30 a.m. Friday and booked around 4 a.m. She was released on her own recognizance around 1 p.m. and given a tentative court date of Dec. 1.
Carrillo was elected to the Assembly in 2017 in the 52nd District, which covers parts of northeastern Los Angeles and southern Glendale.
She’s not the only political candidate in Southern California to face the fallout of a DUI arrest in recent months. In May, state Sen. Dave Min, of Irvine, was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Min, running to replace Rep. Katie Porter in California’s 47th congressional district, called his decision to get behind the wheel “irresponsible” and said he was accepting “full responsibility” for his actions.
In August, Riverside City Councilmember Clarissa Cervantes — running for the state Assembly — pleaded guilty to DUI, stemming from a July incident.
Brian VanRiper, a longtime Democratic political consultant who has worked on L.A. City Council races but is not working for any of the candidates in the Council District 14 race, said Friday that a DUI arrest may not be politically dooming in districts where voters tend to be socio-economically disadvantaged.
“I think a lot of voters nowadays just never hear about these kinds of stuff. It will be in the news cycle for a day or two” before going away, said VanRiper. And in a crowded primary race with lots of candidates, one person’s DUI arrest may not become the focus of the race, he said.
If Carrillo advances to the general election, her opponent may bring up the arrest, but that may depend on how much the issue resonants with voters, VanRiper said.
“In socio-economically challenged districts, the voters are a lot more forgiving — just have a lot more (other issues) to care about. In those districts, officials can give away turkeys and fall on the good graces of (voters),” he said.
“If you’re in a high-profile race like Dave Min or Wendy Carrillo, it’s not optimum timing. But it’s also not the end of the world,” the political consultant said. “Voters take ethics and corruption a lot more seriously than a person’s first DUI.”
Most candidates for Council District 14 who were contacted via their campaigns did not respond to requests for comment. One who did respond was the incumbent, de Leon.
De León provided a one-line statement through his campaign: “I am just glad everyone is safe and no one was hurt,” de Leon said about Carrillo’s arrest.
City News Service contributed reporting.
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