Baltimore City

Branch claims victory in District 13 City Council race

Baltimore City Councilman Warren Branch narrowly defeated his main challenger in the District 13 Democratic primary, election officials said Wednesday.

With no votes left to count in the race, Branch, a first-term councilman, had a 43-vote lead over Shannon Sneed, said city elections director Armstead Jones Sr. The results were not yet certified, but election officials were in the process of doing that, Jones said.

Reached by phone, Branch breathed a sigh of relief. "I'll take a win any way I can get it," he said jokingly.

Branch, who represents East Baltimore, said he was surprised the race was so close but praised Sneed, a television producer.

"She put on a wonderful campaign," he said. "When looking at this new generation coming in, it makes you feel good you have educated candidates out there. She put on a positive campaign. There was no innuendo and slander."

Sneed, who has worked for WJZ-13, did not immediately respond to calls and emails seeking comment.

About 4,500 votes were cast in the district's five-person primary race.

Branch, the brother of Del. Talmadge Branch (D-Baltimore), said his first priority is for the council to hire a budget expert who can provide an independent analysis.

"The mayor has a team full of analysts," he said. "I think we have the fox guarding the henhouse. We need an analyst with the same expertise and knowledge."

He said he's also committed to finding more programs for kids in East Baltimore, providing more affordable housing and improving schools.

"We have a lot of positive changes coming for East Baltimore," he said.

Branch would face a third-party candidate in the general election in November.

Branch's apparent win was the narrowest for council incumbents. Only one incumbent, Belinda Conaway in District 7, lost. She was defeated by challenger Nick Mosby by about 600 votes.

The turnout in the primary was the lowest recorded in Baltimore history: 23 percent of registered voters.