Shannon Sneed, a former Baltimore City Councilwoman who finished second in the 2020 primary for City Council president, has taken a step toward trying for the office once again.

The 42-year-old filed paperwork with the elections board earlier this week to allow her to raise money to run for council president, but told The Baltimore Banner on Thursday she has not officially made up her mind.

“I’m still exploring. Right now, my young daughter and my family are my main priority,” Sneed said, adding that she will apply for Baltimore’s public financing campaign system.

The city’s Fair Election Fund provides matching public dollars to candidates who eschew donations larger than $150 as well as money from corporations, unions and political action committees. Created in 2019, the fund sets certain qualifying parameters. Candidates for City Council president must raise $15,000 or receive donations from 250 individuals in order for the Fair Election Fund to begin matching donations according to a specific calculation. Council president candidates can receive up to $500,000 in matched funds.

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“If it all works out, maybe we’ll be able to move forward,” Sneed said. If she qualifies for and opts into the program, she will be the first candidate to make use of the system, which proponents say gives candidates who don’t receive hefty checks from wealthy individuals or corporations a fighting chance.

She faces incumbent Council President Nick Mosby, who bested her last cycle with just over 40% of Democratic primary vote. Sneed trailed more than ten points behind with 29.4%. Carl Stokes, a former councilman, came in third with 21.1% of the vote.

This season will now become a three-way race with high name recognition. Mosby, who was a state delegate when he ran for council president, is running to maintain his seat. City Councilman Zeke Cohen, who represents South Baltimore’s 1st District, is also running.

The former 13th District councilwoman, who now lives in Reservoir Hill with her husband and daughter, struggled with name recognition in the 2020 primary, especially as a grassroots candidate who was trying to spread her platform during pandemic lockdowns.

Sneed defeated two-term incumbent Warren Branch in the 2016 primary for the 13th District. She lost to Branch by 43 votes in the 2011 Democratic primary, and ran as a write-in candidate that November, losing by 217 votes.

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After vacating her council seat in order to run for council president, Sneed worked as a regional director for Sen. Chris Van Hollen, serving as his office’s point of contact for city officials, the business community, nonprofits and constituents.

She left Van Hollen’s office to join Tom Perez’s 2022 gubernatorial ticket as lieutenant governor. The pair came in second place in the Democratic primary to eventual Gov. Wes Moore and Lt. Gov. Aruna Miller.

Before entering politics, she worked as a television producer for WJZ. She also worked for the Mayor’s Office of Employment Development during Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s tenure.

Sneed has a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore and a master’s degree in communication management from Morgan State University.

Sneed’s entry into the race confirms suspicions among the city’s political class. She fielded a poll earlier this summer, often a sign that a politico is mulling a run. But she declined to share results with reporters at the time, often a sign that a politician wasn’t thrilled with its results.

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“Your poll was very encouraging, let me say that,” Sneed said of the Banner-Goucher poll.

She enters the field with voters hungry for a third candidate, according to a new survey from Goucher College Poll in partnership with The Baltimore Banner.

Thirty percent of Democratic respondents said if the election was held today they would vote for Cohen, while just 17% of respondents said they would cast their ballot for Mosby.

Though only Cohen and Mosby had declared candidacies when the poll reached voters in mid-September, 34% of poll respondents said they would vote for “some other candidate” — a portion larger than either of the men received. Another 18% of respondents were undecided.

The poll surveyed 537 registered Baltimore Democrats by cellphone and landline from Sept. 19-23. The poll has a 4.2 percentage point margin of error.

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Pollster Mileah Kromer, associate professor of political science and the director of the Sarah T. Hughes Center for Politics at Goucher College, said Sneed “is someone who could potentially fill some of the void our poll suggested. They’re a significant part of the electorate right now.”

She said Sneed’s race with Perez may boost her name recognition among the city’s closest followers of politics, but that it may not make inroads among average voters. Moore and Miller swept Baltimore’s primary by more than ten points last year; Sneed and Perez netted about 27% of the electorate.

“I’m not sure if people will remember that as much as her citywide run and her run to get elected the first time,” Kromer said. “But it’s an experience she can certainly tout.”

Other citywide candidates have used unsuccessful statewide runs as a springboard: Mayor Brandon Scott ran on Jim Shea’s unsuccessful gubernatorial ticket in 2018, two years before he won the mayoral primary.

The election is slated for May 14 of next year. Candidates have until February to enter the race.

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This story has been updated to clarify Shannon Sneed created a fundraising account for a City Council president run.

Emily Sullivan covers Baltimore City Hall. She joined the Banner after three years at WYPR, where she won multiple awards for her radio stories on city politics and culture. She previously reported for NPR’s national airwaves, focusing on business news and breaking news.

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