Vicki Gunvalson's Ex Fiancé Steve Lodge Engaged to Orange County Educator

Their engagement comes three months after news broke that Steve Lodge and Real Housewives of Orange County star Vicki Gunvalson had split

Steve Lodge is an engaged man again.

The retired police officer, who ran for governor of California in the Gavin Newsom recall election this past September, popped the question to his girlfriend Janis Carlson last month, PEOPLE can exclusively report.

"I did ask Janis on December 20th if she would become Mrs. Steve Chavez Lodge, and she happily agreed," Lodge, 63, said in a statement. "We will be married in April 2022."

"We are both very excited, incredibly happy, totally in love and look forward to our life together," he added.

Janis, 37, is a third grade school teacher in Orange County. The two have been dating since September, and went Instagram official with their relationship on Christmas Day. This will be his fourth marriage and her first.

Their engagement comes just three months after news broke that Lodge and his former fiancé Vicki Gunvalson, of Real Housewives of Orange County fame, had split. The two got engaged in April 2019 after three years together. Lodge told PEOPLE he and Gunvalson split in December 2020 — though she appeared by his side well after that, posing together for photographs during travel stops on his campaign and even discussing their romance in press appearances.

Steve Lodge and Janis Carlson Engaged
Steve Lodge and Janis Carlson. Courtesy Steve Lodge

Their breakup was announced in September, days after Lodge lost his gubernatorial bid.

"The time has come for Steve and I to move forward or move on and we are …. moving on," Gunvalson wrote on Instagram at the time. "There is no fault with either person, we are just going in different directions. I wish him the best life has to offer and to be happy, and he has wished the same for me."

Steve Lodge
Charles Sykes/getty

Gunvalson, 59, then slammed Lodge in October, during a conversation on Instagram with former costar Tamra Judge. "He used me, he lied to me," she wrote on Instagram. "He's been dating a 36-year-old and is not what he portrays himself to be. No Christian man would do what he's done."

"While I was out of town working on a biz trip, he took her to my condo in Mexico!" Gunvalson added. "He's been flaunting around my town in OC making out in public places. It's disgusting."

In a statement to PEOPLE at the time, Lodge denied Gunvalson's allegations. "Vicki and I ended our engagement and relationship in December of 2020. I did this in person verbally and explained it to her in writing," he said. "We had not been in an intimate relationship since September of 2020. I have been living in Puerto Vallarta in my own condo, not hers since the beginning of 2021. We remained friends, but it was clear to me Vicki was still wanting more, which I told her was not possible."

"I wanted to move on with my life and I could not do that with Vicki. I'm sorry that Vicki can not accept this, but it was time," he continued. "The absolute lies she is now spreading on social media is very disappointing and disingenuous, to say the least. But I can not say I'm surprised. She should not be dragging Tamra or anyone else into her lies. With that being said, I still wish her all the best."

Vicki Gunvalson and Steve Lodge
Vicki Gunvalson and Steve Lodge. Astrid Stawiarz/Bravo

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Gunvalson, who began dating Lodge after her 2015 split from ex Brooks Ayers, was previously previously married to Michael J. Wolfsmith from 1982-1991 and to Donn Gunvalson from 1994-2014.

She'll be returning to reality TV later this year, in a second season of an all-stars Housewives mashup series on Peacock. Other Housewives appearing on the show will be Real Housewives of New York City star Dorinda Medley and Jill Zarin; Real Housewives of Beverly Hills' Taylor Armstrong and Brandi Glanville; Real Housewives of Atlanta stars Eva Marcille and Phaedra Parks; and Judge.

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