Mesa councilman arrested for DUI wants 'to make amends with the community'

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Ryan Winkle spoke at 4 p.m. on Wednesday about his arrest at a news conference with his wife. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Ryan Winkle spoke at 4 p.m. on Wednesday about his arrest at a news conference with his wife. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Mesa City Councilman Ryan Winkle and his wife, Erika (right), sat down with independent journalist Mary Rabago to discuss his recent DUI arrest. (Source: Facebook.com/maryrabagoAZ) Mesa City Councilman Ryan Winkle and his wife, Erika (right), sat down with independent journalist Mary Rabago to discuss his recent DUI arrest. (Source: Facebook.com/maryrabagoAZ)
Mesa City Councilman Ryan Winkle and his wife, Erika (Source: WinkleForMesa.com) Mesa City Councilman Ryan Winkle and his wife, Erika (Source: WinkleForMesa.com)
Winkle cooperated fully with the officers who administered the field sobriety test. (Source: Tempe Police Department) Winkle cooperated fully with the officers who administered the field sobriety test. (Source: Tempe Police Department)
2008 booking photo of Ryan Winkle (Source: Scottsdale PD) 2008 booking photo of Ryan Winkle (Source: Scottsdale PD)
MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

The Mesa city councilman who was arrested on suspicion of DUI last week spoke a couple of times on Wednesday to discuss the arrest and his political future.

Ryan Winkle first sat down with independent journalist Mary Rabago around 12:30 p.m. and then held a news conference at 4 p.m.

"The incident made me take a hard look at my life, my decisions and capabilities. I've learned I have made some poor choices and my wife and I have enrolled in family counseling program. I will not avoid consequences of my mistakes but I will own up to them," Winkle said.

Winkle, who was recorded by a police officer’s body camera failing a field sobriety test after being pulled over at about 1 a.m. on Sunday, May 7, said he wants to own his mistake and “make amends with the community.”

[WATCH: Ryan Winkle takes field sobriety test and then is placed under arrest]

[ORIGINAL STORY: City of Mesa councilman arrested on suspicion of DUI in Tempe]

“At this moment, I want to address the audience and just really show my apology – my sincere apology -- for what happened,” he said. “I made a bad choice, a bad decision that I shouldn’t have done. And now I have to own up to it ….”

According to the Tempe officer who stopped Winkle, the councilman nearly ran a red light where people were crossing the street.

“Someone could have been hurt and that’s a huge issue,” Winkle said. “My wife was in the car. If I think about the fact that [if] something happened and then my son didn’t have a mother anymore … it’s really painful.”

[WATCH: Full interview]

“I can hear in your voice the emotion,” Rabago said. “I can hear your repentance to this.”

Winkle said constituents to whom he has spoken want to see him work harder and redeem himself. He said earlier this week that he has no intention of resigning his seat on the Mesa City Council.

[READ MORE: Councilman arrested for DUI 'still moving ahead at breakneck speed']

“I will be taking a voluntary leave of absence to kind of get through the legal stuff and also take the pressure off of City Hall,” Winkle said. “They don’t need that kind of distraction.”

But he said he will be back and “working just as hard as ever – probably more.”

“I have to work harder now,” he said. “For the next four years, I expect to work as hard as possible for the voters of District 3 and for Mesa in general.”

Winkle said not only have he and his wife, Erika, enrolled in “some treatment and counseling,” they also plan to spearhead an awareness campaign to help people not make the same mistake he did.

Erika, who was heard on body cam video telling an officer that her husband was “obviously intoxicated” and “neither one of us should be driving,” was also there for Wednesday’s sit-down interview. Near tears, she said all she wanted to do was protect her husband.

[BODY CAM VIDEO: Councilman arrested for DUI was 'obviously intoxicated,' wife said]

“I’m always going to support him,” she said, giving her husband a kiss. “I was doing what … any other woman would have done. I was protecting my husband. I was protecting my baby, my family.”

Since the release of the officers' body camera video, Erika has come under fire for things she said to police that can be construed as requests for special treatment in deference to her husband's political status.

Winkle said he did not hear any of that. The videos show he was with another officer taking a field sobriety test at the time.

"She wasn't behind the wheel. She's not in public office," Winkle said. "It shouldn't be about Erika. It should be about me. This is my problem. This is my fault."

“This will change my life, definitely,” Winkle said. “This time I’m actually seeking some professional help. This is a big deal.”

Winkle said “this time” in reference to a 2008 extreme DUI charge to which he pleaded guilty and for which he served a month in jail.

Until Wednesday's interview, Winkle had been relatively quiet about the arrest, releasing only a brief statement the day after it happened.

"During a routine traffic stop early Sunday morning in Tempe, I was processed and cited for Driving Under the Influence. I understand that this is a very serious matter and I am cooperating fully with the Tempe Police Department in every way possible. Since this is an ongoing legal matter, I will not be making any further statements at this time.”

The Mesa City Council is scheduled to meet on Thursday to discuss Winkle's future. He can be censured, suspended or removed from office.

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