On Dec. 28, Mary Jo Daley struck the gavel for her final meeting as president of the Narberth Borough Council.

A Democrat who grew up in Narberth, Daley had served on council for 20 years, 10 as council president.

"We have more younger people who are getting interested and involved," said Daley, 62, on her decision not seek reelection, "and I never wanted to be the grouchy old council person who said, 'why don't we do it this way.' It's time for somebody different to take it on."

Daley, associate director of business services at the University of Pennsylvania, said she first got involved in politics in 1960 when John F. Kennedy was running for president.

Her father, Francis X. Daley, nicknamed "Duce," was a local Democratic committee person. He recruited Daley and her siblings to deliver campaign literature around the borough.

"I guess it was the first time I got really interested in an election," Daley said.

While in sixth grade, as her interest in Democratic politics bloomed, Daley participated in a mock presidential debate at her school.

"Unfortunately, I had to be Nixon, which was really hard," she laughed. "I did not want to be Nixon."

Daley's mother, Mary, also played a major role in her political awareness.

Daley and her mother would go to the local food distribution center to picket and show support for the members of the United Farm Workers when they were boycotting produce growers in the 1970s.

"My activity was probably mostly related to not eating iceberg lettuce and not eating grapes," Daley said of the then-boycotted staples. "To this day I have a hard time eating iceberg lettuce."

Daley said she eventually became a Democratic committee person in the borough.

She decided to run for council in 1991, after the Lower Merion and Narberth Democratic Committee had difficulty finding candidates.

"I thought, 'I have as many qualifications as anyone else to do this job,' and I ran and I won. I don't think there was anybody more surprised than me," Daley said.

"For my first eight years, I was the only Democrat on the council. We could see that it was gradually changing. We have a lot of folks who used to live in the city, and when they started to have families, they'd move into Narberth and many of them brought their politics with them.

When she stepped down all seven of the Council's members were Democrats.

One disappointment for Daley is the fact that the number of woman on council is now down to just one - Councilwoman Heidi Boise.

"I was never the only woman and I really like to see women in these jobs because it's a different viewpoint," Daley said.

The accomplishment Daley said she was most proud of while on council is the work she did with fellow council members on the Downtown Revitalization.

"I recently looked at some photos before and it looks so much better now," Daley said. "We didn't want it to be fancy, we wanted it to just be home, so it was kind of like sprucing up your house."

Daley's post-retirement plans include exercising, focusing on her job and taking more dance classes with her husband, Bob Winkleman. Daley said she and Winkleman have previously taken ballroom dancing.

"I'm really looking forward to having more time to exercise, more time for myself," Daley said. "But I'm sure I'll end up doing something else, because it's fun to get involved in your community."

Contact Josh Fernandez at jfernandez@philly.com