State Rep. Brad Bennett (D-Dover) announced his retirement from the Delaware House of Representatives before his colleagues in chamber Tuesday due to his personal battle with alcoholism.


State Rep. E. Bradford Bennett (D-Dover) announced his retirement from the Delaware House of Representatives before his colleagues in chamber Tuesday due to his personal battle with alcoholism.

Bennett was charged with DUI by the Wilmington Police Department in April, and he was also charged with DUI by the Lewes Police Department in Delaware’s beach resort area back in October 2010.

House Majority Leader Peter C. Schwartzkopf (D-Rehoboth Beach) asked Speaker of House Robert F. Gilligan (D-Sherwood Park) for personal privilege Tuesday so that Bennett could address the House of Representatives. Gilligan granted Bennett permission to address the chamber with a personal statement.

“Mr. Speaker, colleagues and friends, l I have for the past 50 days learned a great deal about myself that I have never known or understand or perhaps just chose to ignore,” Bennett said. “I have learned of a disease that, like cancer, needs to be treated daily lest it consume your life, your ability to make right choices and the happiness of your family.”

Bennett, with his voice shaking in an emotional speech, expressed gratitude to the Dover Behavioral Health Center for referring him to Father Martin’s Ashley in Havre de Grace, Md. for treatment of his addiction.

“In the end, however, there is no magic pill for what in fact is a disease of the brain, but only determination and daily self will with the help of God,” he said.

Bennett was charged with driving under the influence by the Wilmington Police Department cruiser on April 15. The WPD said Bennett sideswiped one of their police cruisers and kept on going. He was subsequently charged with DUI and leaving the scene of an accident.

Bennett was also arrested by Lewes Police and charged with DUI back on Oct. 3, 2010. The officer who stopped Bennett for a traffic violation around 2:30 a.m. tested him when he suspected he was intoxicated.

Bennett said he had been working on three important tasks assigned to him as part of the 12-step Alcoholics Anonymous program in the past 50 days. They are to make “a searching and fearless inventory of self, make a list of persons you have harmed and make direct amends where possible.”

Those who are elected to public service are held to a higher standard in their daily lives, he said.

“As a result of my actions, confidence in me has been questioned. For that, I am sorry. I ask those citizens and you, my colleagues, for forgiveness. When something bad does happen in life you have three choices – let it define you, let it destroy you or let it strengthen you. And I have chose to let it strengthen me.

Bennett choked up when he spoke of his father, a 15-year veteran of the State House of Representatives.

“My father loved this chamber,” he said. “He taught me that public service and doing for others was the foundation of everything that makes a man. He served many of the same constituents that I have for the past four years, that I’ve also represented. He showed me that the measure of a man is not what you do when you fall from grace but it’s what you do when you get back up.”

Bennett then asked Gilligan and his colleagues of the House to allow him to continue serving the 32nd District for the closing days of this legislative session, which wraps up on June 30.

“And I will retire and not seek re-election from this House,” he said. "And I will devote my time to taking care of myself and my family.”

The chamber then applauded Bennett for about 20 seconds.