Brandy Brooks. Credit: File Photo

Montgomery County Council candidate Brandy Brooks is taking a two-week break from campaigning after a staff member’s allegation that she created a “hostile workplace environment,” she told supporters on Wednesday.

Brooks wrote in an email and a social media post on Wednesday afternoon that the conflict surfaced a month ago. It led to Brooks first having no contact with the staff member, then working to solve the problem through formal mediation, the message says.

Even though an agreement was reached through a mediator, “increasingly inaccurate and malicious reports of my behavior are spreading within our community,” Brooks’ message says.

She emphasized that she is still running for an at-large seat on the County Council while she takes time off to “reflect with my trusted advisors.”

“While I am taking a momentary break, the campaign is not ending,” the message says.

In an interview on Thursday, Brooks declined to go into more detail about the conflict or identify the staffer. She said is willing to work further through mediation if the staffer requested it.

The staffer no longer works for Brooks’ campaign, she said.

Brooks ran for an at-large seat in the 2018 race, finishing seventh out of 33 candidates in a Democratic primary.

In February 2021, she started campaigning again for at-large County Council for the 2022 election. She filed in May 2021.

Brooks said she and her campaign are publicly talking about the conflict to be transparent and because of her commitment to accountability in leadership, including in governance and in her campaign operation.

Having people who are not involved in the situation sharing inaccurate accounts of what happened has been “damaging” to the campaign and her character, Brooks said.

“I believe that accountability must be based in honest fact-finding with the goal of seeking the truth,” the campaign message on Wednesday says. “For decisions about my character and leadership to be made with such prejudice prior to any process is the very opposite of justice, by any definition.”

Brooks’ campaign manager, Michelle Whittaker, said in an interview on Wednesday night that she received the complaint from the staffer a month ago, which prompted Brooks and the campaign to address the issue.

“There is more to be done to create healing — for the people involved and the larger community — and I hope leaders and advocates for justice can help bring folks together in this moment,” Whittaker wrote in an email.

Brooks is one of six Democrats running for four at-large seats in the Democratic primary. Three are incumbents — Gabe Albornoz, Evan Glass and Will Jawando. The other challengers besides Brooks are Laurie-Anne Sayles and Scott Evan Goldberg.

Three candidates are running in the Republican primary — Christopher Fiotes, Lenard Lieber and Dwight Patel.

The filing deadline for the July 19 primary is Friday.