Councilwoman Shannon Sneed announced Thursday she is running for City Council president ― initiating what is likely to be the first competitive race for the council’s top job in more than a decade.
Sneed, 38, an East Baltimore Democrat, planned her formal campaign kickoff for Saturday in a small park, near her Ellwood Park house, that she and neighbors helped create.
“It’s urgent we have change,” Sneed said in a interview. “There’s no better time than now."
Democratic City Councilman Leon Pinkett of West Baltimore is already in the race. And Sneed’s announcement came the same day that state Del. Nick J. Mosby, a West Baltimore Democrat, said he was seriously considering a run for council president.
With incumbent Council President Brandon Scott running for mayor, the 2020 Democratic primary will be the first time sitting elected officials have faced off against each other for council president since Stephanie Rawlings-Blake won the seat in 2007.
A former television journalist, Sneed has represented the council’s 13th district since 2016 when she unseated incumbent Warren Branch. She is known for introducing progressive legislation, such as bills that protect city contractual employees from sudden layoffs; require all top officials in Baltimore’s government to live within the city; and expand lactation accommodations for working moms who are nursing their babies.
Recently, Sneed introduced legislation that would end the city’s practice of testing job applicants for marijuana use and the city law department’s use of nondisparagement clauses in settling lawsuits with people who sue the police department alleging abuse or misconduct.
Though she’s still in her first four-year term on the council, Sneed said she didn’t see any reason she should wait to run for higher office. She said some older politicians, such as former Democratic Mayor Catherine Pugh, who resigned amid a corruption scandal this year, have failed residents.
“Why should I wait when we’ve seen the seasoned people not do the right thing?” Sneed asked.
Sneed is a graduate of Emerge Maryland, which encourages and trains women to go into politics.
She has an ally in Scott. They use the same fundraiser, Colleen Martin-Lauer, and Scott has said Sneed would make a “fabulous council president."
Sneed and her husband, Ramond, have a 2-year-old daughter, Rae, who is so often seen in City Hall she’s been nicknamed the “16th councilmember.”
Mileah Kromer, director of Goucher College’s Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center, called Sneed “part of the more progressive wing of the City Council.”
Kromer said the Sneed’s reputation as an advocate for working moms could help galvanize female voters.
“When she brought her baby to the City Council, it became an important moment for working moms,” Kromer said. “If there’s not a ton of policy differences between the candidates, things like that will matter to voters.”
Mosby, 40, a former city councilman and electrical engineer, said Thursday he had ruled out running for mayor and thinks he’s best positioned now to seek the top spot on the council.
Maryland Policy & Politics
“Right now, in Baltimore city, it’s a trying time in our city. We have to be very clear about that. We have to be very open and honest about that,” Mosby said in an interview. "I’m going to take time to look into this and come up with a decision.”
Mosby, who unsuccessfully ran for mayor in 2016 before taking a seat in 2017 in the House of Delegates, was the lead sponsor of state legislation that bars the city of Baltimore from seizing homes for overdue water bills and a bill that would have banned Maryland employers from asking about a job applicant’s criminal record until after an interview. Republican Gov. Larry Hogan vetoed the latter bill.
Mosby, who lives in Reservoir Hill, is married to city State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby. He served one term on the City Council after being elected in 2011. He was appointed to the State House seat in 2017, then won an election in 2018 to keep it.
“My skill set, as it relates to some of the other potential candidates, far out-stacks them,” Mosby said.
Pinkett, 51, said he welcomed other candidates to the field.
“I believe City Council president is a critical position in our city," he said. "I welcome a robust debate on how we should move our city forward.”
The filing deadline is Jan. 24 for the 2020 Democratic primary on April 28.