Former Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez has named Shannon Sneed, a former Baltimore City councilmember, as his running mate in his bid to become Maryland’s next governor.
“I remember vividly when we first sat down a while back, and I walked away thinking we have such an alignment of values — we both spent our entire lives fighting for jobs and justice. The work you’ve done in Baltimore is so impressive,” Perez said in a campaign video released Thursday. “I think together, we will build a Maryland that works for everyone.”
From 2016 to 2020, Sneed represented Baltimore’s 13th District on the city council, but for the last year, Sneed had been working as a regional director for U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), leading his outreach efforts in Baltimore until last month. Sneed also ran for Baltimore council president in 2020, but lost the Democratic primary to current City Council President Nick J. Mosby (D).
Sneed said she first met Perez last summer during a meet and greet in Baltimore and found the way Perez talked with voters compelling. Sneed recalled listening to a mother who told Perez that she was afraid of how a police officer might interact with her autistic son because they may not understand him. “He listened, we gave suggestions — it was a talk, it was a conversation and conversations involve a back and forth,” Sneed said in a phone interview Thursday.
But she said she never considered running for lieutenant governor until Perez called her one day to ask her to consider joining him. Sneed had prepared for the call the night before, jotting down notes for Perez on who he should speak with and watch out for to win. “I was so shocked,” Sneed said of the offer to join his ticket. “He was already on my list of top candidates.”
During her time on the city council, Sneed spearheaded legislation that kept city employees, such as janitors, food servers and security guards, from losing their jobs on short notice when their job contracts changed. Under this law, an incoming city contractor is required to retain the existing workforce for at least 90 days.
Sneed, who often brought her young daughter to council meetings, also introduced legislation that expanded lactation accommodations for new mothers working in Baltimore. Employers have to offer a space for new mothers to sit and a refrigerator where employees can store breast milk, which is beyond what most employers are required to offer under federal law.
Sen. Cory V. McCray (D-Baltimore), whose state legislative district overlapped with Sneed’s, touted Sneed as a hard worker. “She’s not just led, but she’s led vigorously and passionately to make sure that she puts points on the board, that she’s got the ball in the view, that she moved the needle.” He highlighted a residency requirement bill Sneed pushed for that requires all top officials in Baltimore’s government to live in the city.
McCray had endorsed Perez for governor in December.
“I’m just no joke — I was a full-time councilwoman. I realized that my district had so much work to be done, and I could not do it without essentially having both hands on the wheel, full of gas and laser-focused on my district,” Sneed said.
More recently, Sneed led Van Hollen’s outreach efforts in Baltimore from Capitol Hill, helping officials think about how federal legislation affects those living in Baltimore. Sneed recalled picking up many calls from constituents who had just lost their jobs, which she empathized with because her husband had also lost his job as a general manager at a hotel during the pandemic.
“My house was hit,” Sneed said. “So I really feel when people were calling to say — I don’t know when my next paycheck is going to come.”
“I’m like hold on, let’s see what we can do, let’s connect them to resources that we know about here in the city…we are all in this together,” Sneed said.
Sneed, who was raised by a single mother, said her personal experience is also what drives her. Her mother lost her husband in a car accident and a daughter from a heart condition, but had two other daughters to raise, including Sneed. “That connects with me right away when I see mothers going to work every day and fathers…single parents in the struggle trying to do everything to make sure their child or children have the opportunity to go to college,” she said.
Sneed attended two Maryland HBCUs, with a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore and master’s degree in communication from Morgan State University. She was a professional journalist before she started her career in politics.
As lieutenant governor, Sneed said she wants to focus on helping Baltimore, which has not gotten the attention it deserves. “I almost feel like Baltimore City is the stepchild, and I want to make sure that we’re not the stepchild.”
Six of the 10 Democratic candidates for governor have named running mates and four have tickets with people of color running for the top slot and for lieutenant governor: In addition to the Perez-Sneed ticket; former Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III is running with Montgomery County Councilmember Nancy Navarro; former Obama administration official Ashwani Jain is running with LaTrece Hawkins Lytes, a political advocate; and former nonprofit CEO Wes Moore has teamed with ex-state Del. Aruna Miller.
Comptroller Peter Franchot is running with former Prince George’s County Councilwoman Monique Anderson-Walker, and former U.S. Secretary of Education John King is running with Michelle Siri, the executive director of The Women’s Law Center of Maryland.
Nonprofit executive Jon Baron, former Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler, Former Anne Arundel County Executive Laura Neuman, and college lecturer Jerome Segal have not named running mates. They will have to make their picks by the Feb. 22 candidate filing deadline.