Duluth, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) ---In an exclusive interview with the Northland's NewsCenter, Representative Kerry Gauthier sat down with Barbara Reyelts to discuss how his alleged sex scandal with a 17 year old has impacted his career and his personal life.
Rep. Gauthier told the Northland's NewsCenter Wednesday morning that he was still running for re-election, however Rep. Gauthier called Barbara Reyelts a little before 5pm Wednesday to say that he has decide to withdraw from the race.
Rep. Kerry Gauthier: My name is Kerry Gauthier and I have had the honor of representing the people of District 7B in the Minnesota State House of Representatives. I am here to address recent incidents regarding myself and announce a response to these incidents and my future plans. The recent incident at Thomson Hill that involved myself and a young man was all over the press, and has been an obvious tragic embarrassment to me. I am sorry for the hurt that I have caused my family, friends and my constituents. I know I made a mistake and am determined to make amends as best I can. I am a better person than this incident would portray me, and I will demonstrate this in my future behavior. I can change my behavior, but I cannot change the fact that I am a gay man, and have known this since my college days. I simply must act like a mature gay man would act, and not as the incident portrays me. I also need to recommit myself to my sobriety program, as I am a chemically dependent person, and have been in recovery for over 30 years, with one recent relapse. However, when faced with the trauma, and public shame brought about by this incident, I reverted to an old, bad behavior, and tried to run away, and escape the reality I was facing by over medicating myself, not to feel the pain, and resulted in my hospitalization. I am, again, aware of the foolishness of this effort, and must re-dedicate my sobriety in order to survive. Fortunately, I have many who are willing to help me in this effort. I also want people to know that I am seeking help to address these issues. There are those, particularly in St. Paul, that have publicly asked for my resignation, or withdrawal, from the race for the House seat 7B. In consultation with my friends, and my family, I have decided to let people in Central, and West Duluth make that decision rather than the political power-base in St. Paul. I plan to continue my re-election efforts, and ask voters of the district to accept my sincere apology, and to make their judgment of me based on my vigorous advocacy of the interest of the district at the Capitol, and not by a mistake that I made in my personal life. I plan to run a campaign that is based on my legislative record, and ask the voters for their forgiveness, and their vote.
Barbara Reyelts: Are you confident, Kerry, that you'll be able to get that forgiveness, and that you'll get reelected?
Gauthier: I believe people are very forgiving. I made a mistake; I have had to live with that, and it's forced me to face some things that I have been avoiding for years. And, I think the people of Duluth are very kind–hearted.
Reyelts: You mentioned the DFL leadership in St. Paul. What about your DFL party members here, in the Duluth area?
Gauthier: I think there's mixed reactions to it. Some people are supporting me; some are just really staying quiet. I haven't gotten—other than people who have announced, asking me to resign—I haven't had party activists do that. You know, like it or not, I'm the endorsed candidate.
Reyelts: And, why should people vote for you?
Gauthier: I think they should vote for me because of my record—of my willingness to stand up, and speak truth for working men and women, and for the poor, and the minorities—and to advocate for my city. I just believe that is what the vote should be based on—not the mistake that I made.
Reyelts: And, you admit that you are seeking treatment. Will that impact your ability to be re–elected?
Gauthier: I do not believe so. There are a lot of people in the legislature that are in recovery.
Reyelts: What about this slip? Will you have another slip?
Gauthier: Not if I work my program. And that's what this is all about. I'm reaching out and doing what I need to do. And like is said, it's forced me to look at some things which were long overdue.
Reyelts: One of those which you are a gay man.
Gauthier: I felt like I lived in 2 different worlds. I was very conscious when I wasn't comfortable with not letting people know that I am gay. There are times, I have a lot of gay friends that knew that, but it was two different lives for me because of what was going on in here.
Reyelts: That may have to do with our age because we grew up in an era where it was not always acceptable and that attitude has changed and will that go in your favor?
Gauthier: Um...I hope so and I do believe it is such an emotional thing and it's very different for people my age and it is for kids today. Maybe people do understand that struggle. But that's what I have struggled with for all these years.
Reyelts: What about your health? You went to the hospital with some heart problems. Tell us about that.
Gauthier: I do have high blood pressure. What I have been told is I was having shortness of breath because I took muscle relaxers. I'm thankful for the people that happened to show up at my door that day and found me.... I don't remember it all.
Reyelts: Has this been the hardest period of your life?
Gauthier: It's devastating. Because I let people down. And I'm sorry for that. My family has been awesome. I have an older brother who is gay. He's the only person in my family that knew. My mother who is 85 embraced me and told me she didn't really care...you're my boy.
Reyelts: Going forward you are certain to face questions about the incident in Thompson Hill. How will you address those questions?
Gauthier: I will say I'm embarrassed and I made a mistake. There's nothing more I can say about that. That is one of my major concerns is for the young man that was involved in this even though it was consensual. I remember being that age and that is one of the things I feel the worst about and I think people need to back off of that for his sake.
Posted to the web by Krista Burns