• Mesa council discusses Councilman Ryan Winkle's arrest in DUI

    Mesa council discusses Councilman Ryan Winkle’s arrest in DUI

  • Reporter Jessica Boehm on Mesa councilman's public comments

    Reporter Jessica Boehm on Mesa councilman’s public comments

  • Mesa Councilman Ryan Winkle speaks after DUI arrest

    Mesa Councilman Ryan Winkle speaks after DUI arrest

  • Police body-camera video of Mesa Councilman Ryan Winkle's DUI arrest

    Police body-camera video of Mesa Councilman Ryan Winkle’s DUI arrest

Next week, Mesa City Council members will consider disciplining one of their colleagues who was arrested in May on suspicion of DUI — and community members aren’t shy in sharing their opinions on the topic.

Dozens of residents have sent emails to the council since Councilman Ryan Winkle’s May 7 arrest, with about half calling for swift and severe punishment and the other half defending Winkle’s character.

Perhaps the most striking of those notes came from Winkle’s own mother, who asked the council to remember Winkle’s “countless” contributions to downtown Mesa made prior to his stint on council, which began early this year. 

In an email sent Wednesday, Barbara Rae recalled visiting her son in December 2014. While walking through downtown, store owners came out of their shops to thank Winkle for “bringing new life to the downtown area,” she wrote.

Rae also suggested that the predominantly conservative council might base their discipline decisions on Winkle’s status as a Democrat. 

Rae said she is a registered Republican and is “saddened at the division between the Republicans and Democrats.”

“Let’s put aside our political differences. Don’t divide Mesa. Let’s all work together for the good of all. Ryan has so much to offer the Fiesta District, if you will let him. Don’t stand in your own way,” Rae wrote.

In late May, the Arizona Republican Party launched an online petition asking “Wasted Winkle” to resign from his council post after Tempe police announced his blood-alcohol content was 0.22 percent, which is considered a “super extreme” level. 

This was Winkle’s second DUI arrest with a reported BAC level higher than 0.2 percent. He served 45 days in jail in 2009.

The online AZ GOP petition says, “One DUI is too many, let alone two.”

“We expect our elected officials to model good citizenship. Drinking and driving at ‘extreme’ levels is not model citizenship,” the petition says. 

What’s next

Ten days after his arrest, Winkle announced he would take a voluntary leave of absence to seek counseling and handle his legal situation.

Following the announcement, City Attorney Jim Smith told the council that Winkle’s voluntary suspension does not preclude the council from taking future disciplinary action. 

“Council is the judge of the fitness of its members. It is ultimately council that will make that determination,” Smith said.

Mayor John Giles said last week that the council will “consider initiating disciplinary proceedings against Councilman Winkle” at its June 15 meeting.

Previously, Smith told the council that the proceedings will be a two-step process. First, charges of council-member misconduct will be presented in a council hearing. Then the council will make its determination during a disciplinary hearing.

The City Council has many disciplinary actions at its disposal, including forfeiture of office, suspension, and censure, according to the city code.

Winkle’s attorney, John Phebus, issued the following statement following the announcement of WInkle’s blood-alcohol level:

“Councilman Winkle’s blood test result of a 0.220 is consistent with a violation of Arizona’s misdemeanor DUI law. This is not a felony.

“From the beginning, Ryan has accepted responsibility and cooperated with the authorities. He will continue to do so and will do everything in his power to demonstrate to his constituents and to the City of Mesa that he is worthy of their continued trust. All parties expect a speedy resolution of this case.”


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