Shannon Sneed made it official Friday morning, after she announced outside Baltimore City Public Schools headquarters that she will run for City Council president using public financing.
“We’ve reached the point of no return,” the Democrat said, standing in front of a group of mostly Black women supporters. “The people are fed up, and so am I.”
Sneed, a 42-year-old former city councilwoman who finished second in the 2020 primary for City Council president, filed paperwork to support a publicly financed campaign earlier this month, but said at the time she was still making up her mind.
She joins a competitive field that includes incumbent Council President Nick Mosby, who defeated her by 10 percentage points in the last primary, and Councilman Zeke Cohen.
Cohen had a sturdy 13-point lead over Mosby in a recent survey of Democratic city voters from Goucher College Poll in partnership with The Baltimore Banner. But more than half of voters said they weren’t sure who they would vote for or that they prefer a different candidate.
“Folks are frustrated with current leadership,” Sneed said. “We need a new council president, someone who is ethical, someone who is accountable, someone who will work for the people.”
She said Friday that the Maryland State Board of Elections has accepted her application and confirmed that there is $2.2 million available in the city’s Fair Election Fund, which matches small grassroots donations to candidates who agree to eschew individual donations larger than $150, as well as money from corporations, unions and PACS.
Sneed will be the first citywide candidate to tap into the fund, which was created in a law she co-sponsored when she was the 13th District councilwoman. Baltimore voters overwhelmingly cast their ballots in favor of creating the charter in 2018.
After agreeing to the fund’s parameters, City Council president candidates must raise $15,000 or receive donations from 250 individuals in order for the city to begin matching donations according to a specific calculation. They can receive up to $500,000 in matched funds.
Sneed said she wanted to eschew dependency on special interests and big businesses in running her campaign. “They’ve influenced this city and its politicians for too long,” she said.
She was introduced at the news conference outside North Avenue, the unofficial moniker for the city schools headquarters, by Rev. Ayanna L. Franklin, the pastor of the Ray of Hope Baptist Church in Northeast Baltimore, who received her undergrad degree at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore alongside Sneed.
“She is a woman of the people, who will work for the people,” Franklin said.
The former East Baltimore councilwoman, who moved to West Baltimore’s Reservoir Hill two years ago with her husband and daughter, struggled with name recognition in the 2020 primary, especially as a grassroots candidate who felt knocking on doors during pandemic lockdowns was risky.
Mosby bested her on primary day with just over 40% of the vote; she trailed behind with 29.4%. Carl Stokes, a former councilman, came in third with 21.1% of the vote.
She is no stranger to grassroots success — Sneed defeated two-term incumbent Warren Branch in the 2016 primary for the 13th District. In 2011, Sneed lost to Branch in the primary by just 43 votes. She ran as a write-in candidate that November, losing by 217 votes.
After eschewing her council seat to run for council president in 2020, Sneed worked for Sen. Chris Van Hollen as a regional director, connecting Baltimore officials, businesses, nonprofits and constituents to his office.
She left that position to join Tom Perez’s 2022 gubernatorial ticket as lieutenant governor. They placed second in the Democratic primary to Gov. Wes Moore and Lt. Gov. Aruna Miller.
Kevin Gillogly, who was involved in Catherine Pugh’s mayoral campaign in 2016 and Otis Rolley’s mayoral campaign in 2011, will serve as campaign manager.
The Democratic primary, which in deep-blue Baltimore is tantamount to the general election, is slated for May 14.