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Richard Atwell the Mayor of Saanich

In a single news conference on Monday, the rookie Mayor of Saanich admitted that he lied to the media to hide an extramarital affair, made complaints of misconduct against police and staff at City Hall, and announced that he does not feel safe conducting city business in his municipal offices.

Last week Mayor Richard Atwell, who was elected in November, was on the defensive over reports that he had called police during an incident in the home of a campaign supporter and her fiancé on Dec. 11. This week, at a news conference held in a rented boardroom outside of City Hall, Mr. Atwell told reporters he didn't answer questions about that incident honestly because he was inexperienced and poorly advised.

"I made a mistake. I was not totally truthful when I denied allegations that I had been involved in an extra-marital affair." From that admission, however, he then promptly segued into a list of his own allegations that he has been targeted by police and others.

"I have not felt secure and comfortable working from the mayor's office," he told reporters.

"I called 9-1-1 as a complainant looking for help and at no time did I commit any criminal act. But I do have concerns about the way the investigation was handled and how details of the incident became public." On Monday he formally asked the B.C. Police Complaints Commission to investigate.

As well, Mr. Atwell said he was stopped by police during the municipal election campaign and since a suspicious number of times. "Police pulled me over – not once – not twice – not three times – but on four separate occasions. In two of the instances, the officer administered a roadside breathalyzer test which I believe was done without reasonable suspicion." He said he passed the sobriety tests with perfect "zero" readings, and has now called for a review of those stops by the region's integrated road safety unit.

And, he said last month he "became aware that a member of the District of Saanich's IT team had been instructed to place spyware on my computer" which would capture information typed and accessed on his computer for others to see.

He said he believes the Saanich Police department is in a "clear conflict of interest" and so he has asked for an investigation by a different police force.

"The information provided to me causes me great concern about my private communications and the private communications of citizens contacting me," he said, adding he will correspond in future with constituents through a privately-managed e-mail account. The mayor would not take media questions.

Mr. Atwell, who stressed that he was elected as an outsider to bring change to City Hall, has already generated controversy in his short tenure. City council has protested his decision to terminate the city's chief administrative officer shortly after he was elected. Councillors released a public statement last month saying the decision was taken without their knowledge, and will cost Saanich taxpayers $475,000 in severance.