First on FOX: Upper Darby mayor reflects on alcohol abuse, provides update on recovery
UPPER DARBY, Pa. - A Pennsylvania town mayor who was arrested for DUI after leaving a political fundraiser in January and has since sought treatment for alcohol abuse is urging others fighting the same battle to seek help before it's too late.
"I just would like to use this platform that I have to talk about it and make people feel there is hope," Upper Darby Mayor Barbarann Keffer told FOX 29's Jeff Cole in an exclusive interview.
Keffer, 56-years-old and a mother of two, was pulled over on Jan. 26 after leaving a political fundraiser in Boothwyn. According to a criminal complaint, the officer observed damage to the bumper and front passenger tire on her car and noticed the smell of alcohol on Keffer.
In a statement released by Keffer after her arrest, she said she would seek professional treatment for alcohol addiction in an effort to continue her role as mayor.
"I want to do well by the community and see Upper Darby grow and prosper. I want our community to be safer, cleaner, and full of opportunity. It's why I ran for office and why I am committed to getting the help I need to do just that," the statement read in part.
Over two months since the DUI arrest, Keffer opened up to FOX 29's Jeff Cole about her over three decade battle with alcohol abuse.
"I couldn’t stop, and I don’t think at the time I wanted to stop," Keffer said.
She believes her drinking problem began when she attended Harvard University where she was a standout basketball player. It continued through marriage and the births of her two children.
"I wasn’t drinking while I was pregnant, and I took breaks," Keffer said. "Maybe I would stop drinking for lent or have a Dryuary - or whatever they call it - to prove to myself I had some control over it."
This year's DUI arrest was an abrupt end to a spiraling problem for the Upper Darby Mayor, who focused on improving communication with town residents and working on environmental issues.
"I don’t know if I was limited, but I do think I could have done more," Keffer said.
Keffer spent 35 days away from her family in an alcohol rehabilitation program and contacted FOX 29 for an interview to discuss her condition. She will leave the mayor's office at the end of the year to further focus on her recovery.