Santa Clara County Supervisor George Shirakawa Resigns After Arrest
On Friday, the county of Santa Clara was stunned by the arrest of county supervisor George Shirakawa Jr., who has been charged with four counts of felony perjury and one felony count for the misappropriation of public funds. Just before the District Attorney was set to hold a press conference on the arrest and charges, Shirakawa announced his resignation, saying he has struggled with both Depression and a gambling addiction for many years.
Previously, an internal audit by the county found that Shirakawa had misappropriated a number of funds, using a taxpayer-funded credit card for personal luxury items such as hotels and golf, and ordered him to immediately repay $13,000. Still, his constituents stood by him, lauding his public service efforts in the underprivileged areas of District 2. But that support quickly faded after Friday’s news and revelations that he had spent $130,000 in public funds, gambling at casinos in both California and Nevada. "It's very disappointing because he is supposed to be working for the public instead of gambling and stealing,” said one of his constituents, former rental car driver Gerardo Silva.
On Monday, while Shirakawa’s constituents were still recovering from news of the betrayal, Santa Clara leaders scrambled to decide on plans for his replacement. They had three options: appoint a replacement, appoint an interim replacement until a special election can be held, or keep the seat empty until such an election. Yesterday, they opted for the latter, voting to hold an election for Shirakawa’s replacement on June 4 with no appointment in the meantime. Before their meeting next Tuesday, another vote will have to be held before plans for the election can go any further.
On Friday, Shirakawa’s chief of staff Eddie Garcia was also dismissed, though county officials refuse to say why. Shirakawa is expected to plead guilty to the charges against him on March 18.
Read more about Shirakawa’s arrest and the efforts to fill his seat here.