Barry Returns, Says He Won’t Quit as Mayor
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Mayor Marion Barry returned to the nation’s capital Tuesday after six weeks of substance abuse treatment, declaring ″I feel good about myself″ and saying he has no plans to resign.
Barry, who appeared relaxed and fit, said he was addicted to alcohol and two prescription drugs, Valium and Xanax. He didn’t mention the federal cocaine possession and perjury charges he faces.
He reacted with a broad smile to supporters’ chants of ″Four more years″ in the municipal building where he delivered his remarks but declined to say whether he will seek a fourth four-year term in November.
″My political organization is still intact, not withstanding some defections″ Barry said. ″We will announce some plans in the very near future.″
Barry’s former financial co-chairman has become a spokesman for Del. Walter Fauntroy’s mayoral bid, and a number of other supporters have also distanced themselves. There also have been calls from prominent politicians for the Democratic mayor to resign.
During a 30-minute statement, Barry said his faith in God and the love of supporters and family members had seen him through his substance abuse treatment.
″To those persons, I am eternally grateful, moved and humbled,″ Barry said. ″I’m back and I feel good about my treatment program. I feel good about myself, about my wife, my son, and about the people of Washington.″
The mayor declined to discuss the five cocaine possession and three perjury charges filed against him, referring all questions to his attorney, R. Kenneth Mundy.
Barry entered a Florida substance abuse treatment center three days after his Jan. 18 arrest on a cocaine possession charge, and enrolled in a South Carolina treatment program on Feb. 22. During his absence, a federal grand jury returned the indictments.
He said Tuesday that he was suffering from alcoholism and from addiction to Valium and Xanax, two anti-anxiety prescription drugs.
Top aides have said privately that Barry was also suffering from a problem with cocaine.
″I had no idea of the depths of my problem,″ Barry said. ″For a long time, I had known there was something very wrong and I no longer felt good about myself. But I did not want to face the extent of that problem.″
He said, ″I made some mistakes, large and small. I had some successes, but the large (mistakes) I’m still trying to undo.″
Barry blamed his drug problems on ″repressed anger as well as prolonged and overwhelming stress″ created by his job.
The mayor said top aides, including City Administrator Carol Thompson, would continue their roles in managing district affairs while he seeks after- care.
Barry, however, said that he will gradually resume his duties.
″One thing the people of Washington can continue to count on is my unyielding devotion to duty,″ Barry said. ″During my remaining term in office, I intend to continue to give this job my intellect, my energy ... my desire to serve.″
Barry’s return to Washington was shrouded in secrecy. Spokeswoman Lurma Rackley refused to say when the mayor came back.
A cabinet official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that his colleagues were ″reserved, rather detached″ when Barry briefed them on his treatment program prior to his public address.
″They were surprisingly silent,″ the cabinet member said. ″Several of them told me afterward that they weren’t sure whether this was some kind of game or whether the mayor is sincere about this.″