Exclusive: Waxhaw mayor says she's not an alcoholic

Exclusive: Waxhaw mayor says she's not an alcoholic


by TONY BURBECK / NBC Charlotte

Bio | Email | Follow: @TonyWCNC


Posted on January 23, 2014 at 7:42 PM

Updated Thursday, Jan 23 at 7:50 PM

WAXHAW, N.C. -- Waxhaw Mayor Daune Gardner spoke exclusively to NBC Charlotte about a series of problems during her tenure, including last week's guilty plea stemming from a DWI arrest.

Gardner says she's undergone a substance abuse assessment and counseling, and says that assessment revealed she is a social drinker, not an alcoholic.

"There is a great deal more to me than that bad decision," Gardner said.

In a wide-ranging 40 minute interview, Gardner says personal problems, including a separation from her husband, led to depression around the same time she was first elected mayor in 2007.

And, she uses alcohol to ease the pain.

That was evident last summer, when police charged Gardner with DWI after seeing her swerve across Providence Road.

"What I did was wrong. It was irresponsible and dangerous," she said.

Months after the arrest, the town issued a resolution of disapproval and non-support. It cites seven issues including the DWI.

The resolution says Gardner violated town rules by using a town credit card to buy alcohol.

Gardner says about $30 worth, but she was never reimbursed for it and bookkeeping and receipts aren't her thing.

"Not one cent of taxpayer money was used for purchasing alcohol for me," she said. "No one asked me what's going on here, what's the story, not one of the commissioners."

The resolution also says Gardner has been drunk in public "numerous" times.

She says she indulges.

"But no, to characterize it as consistently and frequently having too much to drink and run around town is simply not true."

The town says Gardner repeatedly missed meetings.

That happened, but the mayor says it's normal for her duties, when she puts in 60 hours a week for what's considered a part-time job. She says at times her depression also kept her home.

Some of the most damning words in the resolution say Gardner's actions show lack of good judgment, which reflects poorly on her professionalism and demonstrates lack of leadership. Some commissioners and residents want her to resign.

This was her response when asked what she tells those people:

"I hear you, but we are a team and we have work to do and I'm a member of the team."

She's talked about it with other town leaders and now says there is an overwhelming desire to move forward and do the work of the town.

This is what Gardner said when asked if she's an effective mayor representing thousands of people, given the recent issues:

"We all make mistakes. We all have shortcomings but those mistakes and shortcomings don't define us."

Gardner's term expires in 2015.  She hasn't decided if she will seek re-election.

She hopes talking about her depression starts a community dialogue the problems depression can cause.