Upper Darby Council President Brian Burke announces campaign to run for mayor as a Republican

Brian Burke, who was elected as a Democrat in 2019, recently switched parties amid an ongoing feud with the current administration.

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(Upper Darby Township)

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Upper Darby Council President Brian Burke announced his campaign to run for mayor as a Republican on Thursday afternoon, citing his disappointment with the direction of the township’s current administration.

“It’s just been going downhill. I really don’t like what the administration has done over the last year and a half. I don’t think they’ve been truthful to the residents — let alone truthful to council people,” Burke said in an interview with WHYY News.

Burke, 57, is a lifelong Upper Darby resident and a member of Steamfitters Local Union 420. He said he intends to address crime and taxes.

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“We have X amount of parks that have been neglected over many years. We have a police force, to me, that is not big enough to support this town,” Burke said.

The official rollout of Burke’s mayoral aspirations comes just a day after current Democratic Mayor Barbarann Keffer announced she would finish out her term, but will not seek re-election.

Keffer, who took office in 2020, was arrested and charged in late January for driving under the influence. She has since apologized and has been seeking treatment, but her physical absence led to a power vacuum in township government that Burke sought to fill.

While he got elected to his current post as a Democrat in 2019, an ongoing feud with the party led to the Upper Darby Democratic Committee formally condemning Burke as well as Councilmembers Laura Wentz and Matt Silva in July 2022.

Township government has been divided between two factions for more than a year. On one side there is Burke, Wentz, and Silva as well as three Republican council members. And on the other side, Keffer’s administration has the support of the remaining five Democratic council members.

The party pledged to ensure Burke and the two other council members “do not hold elected office as Democrats again” in the township, citing their role in delaying the allocation of $35 million of American Rescue Plan Act funds and “obstructing” township business.

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Burke subsequently switched his affiliation to Republican. As such, Burke’s mayoral run will be as a Republican.

He said his father was the first Democrat to ever be elected to council in Lansdowne in 1976 for a four-year term. Burke said his father eventually came back in 1992 and served as the only Republican on Lansdowne’s council.

This is not Burke’s first mayoral run. He ran before a little more than a decade ago. He said his strategy is still the same.

I wanted to make a change, just like I wanted to make a change 12 years ago, or two years after that, and three years ago. And I’m still willing to knock on doors, to fight for Upper Darby — to continue to make a change and to make the right change,” Burke said.

The Upper Darby Republican Committee is endorsing Burke’s bid for mayor.

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