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Election 2024 Government & Politics

Political notes: Remembering a homegrown media mogul, plus a new lineup at DHCD and a new PAC

The Maryland State House as seen from Main Street in Annapolis. Photo by Danielle E. Gaines.

Sometimes one person can make a tremendous difference in a community, even if they aren’t elected to high office. One of those unsung Maryland stalwarts has just passed away.

Greg Bassett, an old-school newsman and one-person media conglomerate on the Lower Shore, died suddenly Sunday of an apparent heart attack. He was 63.

Bassett, a Salisbury native, was the founding editor of The Salisbury Independent, a website and newspaper that he cobbled together after years as a reporter and editor at The Daily Times, the daily paper for the Lower Shore. He also hosted a regular public affairs show on the local cable access station in Wicomico County — a must-stop for local and state politicians.

As such, Bassett was seen as an honest broker in local politics, and had a big influence on civic affairs.

“Our community, and the journalism profession, has taken a big body blow,” Mike Dunn, president and CEO of the Greater Salisbury Committee and a lifelong friend, told Maryland Matters.

Bassett launched The Independent in 2014, after more than 20 years in a variety of roles at The Daily Times. He was also worked as an assistant city editor at The Capital in Annapolis and as an assistant news editor in the Washington, D.C., bureau of Thomson Newspapers.

“Greg was an amazing journalist, and loved the craft more than anyone I’ve ever known,” his ex-wife, Cathy Bassett, wrote this week in a Facebook tribute. “He was bitten at an early age, snapping photos of important events and racing to see if The Daily Times would publish them when he just in high school. He was lucky enough to earn the only job he ever wanted — the editor of his hometown newspaper.”

Bassett is survived by his children, Annie Bassett and Will Bassett.

A celebration of his life will be held at 3 p.m. Saturday at Green Hill Country Club in Quantico. PAC 14, the local cable access channel, will tape the event and air it at a later date.

The Greater Salisbury Committee has established an endowment at the Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore in Bassett’s memory, and to honor his commitment to his community.

“He was a true local journalist and a print journalist, two dying breeds,” Dunn observed.

All in a Day’s work

Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development Secretary Jake Day announced this week that Julia Glanz will be the department’s new deputy secretary. Glanz, who has been at the agency since earlier this year as an assistant secretary, will replace Owen McEvoy, a holdover from the Hogan administration who is moving on to the private sector.

Glanz’s history goes back with Day to his time as mayor of Salisbury, where she served as city manager — and was acting mayor when he was deployed on military duty overseas during part of the pandemic.

Day also announced two new divisions at the department: The Division of Policy, Strategy and Research and the Division of Just Communities. Assistant Secretary Scott Gottbreht will oversee this division, which leads the agency’s legislative affairs and policy operations and its efforts to harness data to aid and develop housing and community development programs.

Another assistant secretary, Cat Goughnour, will oversee the Division of Just Communities, which is responsible for developing, implementing, and accelerating strategies to lift up communities that have experienced historical and ongoing socio-economic marginalization.

Gottbreht joined the agency in August after working for a decade with the United Way of Central Maryland, focusing mainly on housing initiatives.

Goughnour previously served on the Racial Wealth Divide Initiative, headed the Racial Wealth Equity Strategy team, and was Racial Wealth Equity Fellow at Prosperity Now, a national nonprofit focused on asset-building for low- and moderate-income people.

“The additions to our leadership team and creation of the new divisions mark a crucial chapter for the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development in ensuring every Marylander has access to a safe, affordable home,” Day said in a statement. “With these appointments and initiatives, we are dedicated to being data driven and heart led, implementing effective policies, and applying equitable solutions in all our endeavors.”

Jawando’s next move

Montgomery County Councilmember Will Jawando (D) may have dropped out of the 2024 U.S. Senate race earlier this fall and endorsed Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks (D) for the job, but he’s still trying to up his political profile and stay active on the federal fundraising front.

Jawando announced this week that he has launched a federal political action committee called Will of the People. In an email to supporters, Jawando said that despite his record on the council and his past work on Capitol Hill and as an adviser to former President Obama, “there’s always more that can be done.”

Jawando said the new PAC would be “dedicated to electing a new generation of leaders who will reject the zero-sum politics of today and take real action to build an economy that works for all, protect our community from attacks on our fundamental rights, support our children’s education, and finally fix our broken healthcare system.”

In a fundraising pitch for the PAC, Jawando wrote, “We’re putting together a list of bold, unifying leaders we want to direct resources toward and introduce you to soon, but we’re starting from scratch again, so any amount really helps!”

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Political notes: Remembering a homegrown media mogul, plus a new lineup at DHCD and a new PAC