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Brandy Brooks says she has no plans to withdraw Montgomery council bid

The candidate, who faces allegations of sexual harassment, will resume campaign activities this week

Brandy Brooks (D) is running to be on the Montgomery County Council. (Brandy Brooks campaign)
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Brandy Brooks, a Democratic candidate for the Montgomery County Council, said Monday she has no intention of withdrawing from the election in the wake of allegations that she sexually harassed a former member of her campaign staff. She has been on a break from campaign work since April 13 but plans to resume public activity later this week, she said in a text message.

Virginia Onley, co-chair of her campaign, emphasized that there are “absolutely” no plans for Brooks to drop out of the At-Large council race, where eight Democrats and three Republicans are vying for four seats. Once Brooks wraps up her self-declared period of reflection, “we’re going to hit the ground running,” Onley said.

Brooks, an activist and racial equity consultant, previously told The Washington Post that she acted inappropriately with a full-time, paid member of her campaign staff, including by telling them that she had feelings of “romantic and sexual attraction” toward them. The now former employee, who is 27 and uses they/them pronouns, said Brooks’s inappropriate overtures continued for months and that she perpetuated a “pattern of sexual harassment” — a charge that Brooks, 45, denies.

Brandy Brooks pauses campaign amid sexual harassment allegations

The employee, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect their privacy, said they’re “deeply saddened” by Brooks’s reaction to the allegations, which were detailed in a recent Post article. The employee added that they hope to see Brooks issue a “genuine apology” to supporters, campaign staff and organizations that endorsed her.

Brooks, in turn, has accused the employee of violating the terms of a mediation agreement that they both signed earlier this year. (They said they have not.)

A prominent figure in Montgomery’s progressive community, Brooks was among the first people to announce her candidacy for the county council last spring. Before the harassment allegations emerged, her campaign had raised more than $261,000 — including $170,000 in public matching funds — and racked up among the most endorsements of any council candidate.

Several organizations have since backed away from Brooks, including the Metro DC chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, which called her actions “a fracture from the values that we hold” in a recent statement. Other organizations say they’re reviewing the allegations.

Board members at CASA in Action, which advocates for immigrants, are meeting this Thursday to discuss whether to rescind the organization’s support of Brooks, spokeswoman Jossie Flor Sapunar said. Leaders of the Montgomery County Education Association who previously said they were “deeply troubled” by the allegations, are also holding “internal discussions” on the union’s endorsement of Brooks, said President Jennifer Martin.

“Because we are a democratic, member-led union, our members must first have the opportunity to weigh in on the issue,” she said, adding that the union will likely decide what to do on May 4.

As of Monday, Maryland Del. Gabriel Acevero (D-Montgomery) and D.C. Council member Janeese Lewis George (D-Ward 4) were both listed on Brooks’s campaign website as elected officials endorsing her candidacy. Acevero did not respond to questions asking whether he would continue supporting Brooks’s candidacy. George no longer plans to support Brooks, said Zach Teutsch, George’s campaign manager.

Brooks, a longtime tenant, continues to serve as a board member at the Montgomery County Renters Alliance, executive director Matt Losak said. The harassment allegations, he added, are “an issue between her and her campaign.”

Some of Brooks’s closest advisers resigned from her campaign after she discussed the allegations at a closed-door meeting in March.

“We need to figure out who’s with us, who’s not with us,” said Onley, adding that she has no plans to leave. “The bottom line, for me, is that I believe in Brandy Brooks for Montgomery County Council At-Large.”

Apart from Brooks, seven other Democrats are running to be an At-Large member on the county council, including incumbents Gabe Albornoz, Evan Glass and Will Jawando. Council member Tom Hucker (D-District 5) recently dropped out of the county executive race to run for an At-Large seat and the remaining candidates are Dana Gassaway, Scott Goldberg and Laurie-Anne Sayles.