September 25, 2018

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Wyatt won't seek re-election; no mention of sex assault charge among reasons

Veteran city councillor Russ Wyatt released a statement to the Free Press late Monday afternoon, confirming he will not try to hold onto his Transcona ward seat in the Oct. 24 election.

Wyatt, 48, cited his health, recovery from drug and alcohol addictions and his family as reasons for not running again but he made no mention of the sexual assault charge he’s facing.

“I am prepared to confirm that I will not seek re-election as a City Councillor or any other position at this time,” Wyatt said in a text message to a Free Press reporter.

“I would like to thank the people of the Transcona Ward for their amazing support. It has been an honour to serve and to give back to our community. Working together, we have made many improvements. But for now my recovery, my health and my family must be the priority in my life. Thank You.”

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Veteran city councillor Russ Wyatt released a statement to the Free Press late Monday afternoon, confirming he will not try to hold onto his Transcona ward seat in the Oct. 24 election.

Wyatt, 48, cited his health, recovery from drug and alcohol addictions and his family as reasons for not running again but he made no mention of the sexual assault charge he’s facing.

Coun. Russ Wyatt

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Coun. Russ Wyatt

"I am prepared to confirm that I will not seek re-election as a City Councillor or any other position at this time," Wyatt said in a text message to a Free Press reporter.

"I would like to thank the people of the Transcona Ward for their amazing support. It has been an honour to serve and to give back to our community. Working together, we have made many improvements. But for now my recovery, my health and my family must be the priority in my life. Thank You."

Wyatt has represented the Transcona ward since 2002.

Tough 2018

Click to Expand

Jan. 25 – Wyatt requests a leave of absence from his duties as a city councillor. City of Winnipeg officials later say he’s dealing with a personal family matter.

March 23 – The Free Press reveals Wyatt is in rehab for alcoholism and drug abuse at the Aurora Recovery Centre in Gimli.

May 24 – Wyatt returns to work at city hall, saying his time in rehab was life-changing and he’s returning with a new-found outlook on life.

June 4 – While attending the Winnipeg Pride parade, Wyatt comes out as bisexual, saying he’s been living a double life.

June 21 – Wyatt announces he will not seek re-election in the civic election in October. However, he soon begins backpedalling, indicating his political future remains undecided. He sets up a Twitter account and begins publicly mulling a bid for mayor.

July 10 – Police arrest Wyatt and charge him with sexual assault. He’s released on a promise to appear.

July 11 – Winnipeg police announce Wyatt’s arrest at a news conference

Sept. 10: Wyatt announces he’s not seeking re-election

He was arrested and charged July 10, accused of attacking a woman in a Winnipeg home on Jan. 13. She is not his wife, nor is she a city employee. Police said Wyatt and his alleged victim were known to each other.

If convicted, he could face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

Wyatt has been attending to his office on a semi-regular basis, returning calls and dealing with city business.

His "recovery" is reference to his recent admitted addiction to drugs and alcohol.

After the alleged sexual assault, Wyatt took a mysterious leave of absence from city hall on Jan. 19 for what city officials said was a personal family matter. Wyatt broke his silence in mid-March in an exclusive letter to the Free Press where he disclosed he was seeking treatment at the Aurora Recovery Centre north of Gimli for alcohol and substance "disorders," which he said he needed to regain control of his life for his family's sake. He made no reference to the sexual assault allegation, which was being investigated by Winnipeg police at that time.

He returned to council in late May, noticeably thinner and credited his treatment for changing his life but wouldn't talk about what prompted him to seek treatment.

Wyatt surprised many people in June when, while attending the Pride parade, he disclosed he was bi-sexual and admitted to leading a secret double life.

Later, at the June council meeting, Wyatt announced he would not seek re-election but backpedalled hours later in a series of text messages to the Free Press, saying his political future remained undecided. At the time of his arrest he was publicly mulling a bid for the mayoralty.

Seven individuals have registered their candidacies to contest the Transcona ward in the Oct. 24 civic election.

Candidates have until the end of business on Sept. 18 to file nomination papers, which would place their names on the ballot, but they cannot campaign until they register.

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

Aldo Santin

Aldo Santin
Reporter

Aldo Santin is a veteran newspaper reporter who first carried a pen and notepad in 1978 and joined the Winnipeg Free Press in 1986, where he has covered a variety of beats and specialty areas including education, aboriginal issues, urban and downtown development. Santin has been covering city hall since 2013.

Read full biography

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