BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — A southern Indiana county commissioner has suspended her campaign for Bloomington mayor after a former county contractor accused her of sexual harassment and workplace retaliation because he rejected her advances.
Amanda Barge, Monroe County commissioner, suspended her campaign Tuesday, the Herald-Times reported. Barge announced in January that she was challenging Mayor John Hamilton in the May 7 Democratic mayoral primary.
Brandon Drake told the newspaper that Barge retaliated when he rejected her advances and that she used her power to end the drug abuse helpline he was working on and then terminated his job.
Barge denied the allegations.
“I am taking time to reflect with my family. In the meantime, we ask that the public respect our privacy on a personal issue,” Barge emailed the paper on Wednesday. “I have no plans to resign and look forward to being transparent with my community.”
Barge also gave the newspaper a resignation letter dated last June that Drake submitted. In it, Drake didn’t state a reason for his resignation or mention being forced to quit. He did express gratitude to the county health department and county commissioners for the chance to create the treatment navigation project for the county.
“It was an honor and I appreciate it,” he wrote, before giving 30-day’s notice.
County attorneys Dave Schilling and Jeff Cockerill confirmed the document’s authenticity.
Penny Caudill, the Health Department administrator who supervised the state- and county-subsidized program, told reporters on Tuesday that she had sent Drake supplementary grant opportunities to seek after his first round of funding expired if he intended to continue the program.
The county’s Democratic Party chairwoman, Jennifer Crossley, issued a statement.
“We are saddened and disappointed,” Crossley wrote. “At the end of all of this, no one wins and there is much healing, restoration as well as meaningful conversations within our community that is needed after this. Our leadership will be meeting to further discuss this matter.”