By Stephan Janis and Taya Graham
The Baltimore City Council may be touted as a more progressive body than its predecessors, but from a gender perspective it is predominantly male. While that imbalance seems far from changing in the near future, one of the few women with a seat on the city’s legislative body is contemplating a move up.
Councilwoman Shannon Sneed confirmed to The AFRO that she is in the process of exploring a run for office of council president, a move that could propel an already rising star on the council to a city-wide perch.
“I think the people of Baltimore are ready for leadership that’s focused on rooting out corruption and fighting for policies that protect hard working families across the city,” Sneed said in a written statement provided to The AFRO.
“Right now, my focus is on improving the lives of the residents of District 13, but I am considering a run for city council president.”
Sneed’s potential elevation to council president’s office would mark a fast rise for the first term councilwoman.
Sneed first ran for the 13th district seat, which includes East Baltimore, in 2011. After a narrow loss by just 43 votes, to then incumbent Warren Branch, Sneed ran again and won in 2016.
Since then Sneed has been a vocal and active presence on the council. She has been an outspoken advocate for police reform, introducing legislation that bans the practice of forcing police brutality victims to sign gag orders in exchange for settlements.
She also cosponsored legislation that would raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour. The measure passed the council but could not muster enough votes to override a veto by former Mayor Catherine Pugh.
Sneed is also an advocate for working mothers. Last year, she pushed for an increase in lactate accommodations for mothers in public facilities. More recently she introduced legislation that would bar city officials from testing prospective employees for marijuana.
“I think she would make an excellent candidate,” Mary Pat Clarke, one of only two other women to serve on the council, told the AFRO.
The current occupant of the Council President’s office, Brandon Scott, said he welcomed the competition. “Anyone can run for any office they want,” he said. However, Sneed’s entry into the race could have implications for not just the campaign for the president’s seat, but add to the uncertainty over who will run for mayor.
Currently, Mayor Jack Young said he is considering a run for the city’s top job. He was council president prior to being appointed to the city’s top post after Pugh’s resignation amid a scandal involving the sale of her self-published books to a variety of institutions, including nearly $500,000 to University of Maryland Medical System.
Scott, who was elected council president by his colleagues, has also been rumored to be eyeing the mayor’s office. Recently, he has held a series of town halls in each of the cities nine police districts, a precursor some say to a mayoral run.