The day after Evan Glass lost the Democratic primary in 2014 for a Montgomery County Council seat, friends were encouraging him to run again. But it was too soon.
“I could not entertain the idea at that point in time,” said Glass, who lost to Tom Hucker in the District 5 race by some 200 votes. “I needed to take a break. I needed to spend more time with my husband and our dogs and my friends and family.”
But Glass, who is Jewish, will be back on the ballot in 2018, running as a Democrat for one of three at-large openings on the council. He is set to launch his campaign on Sept. 16.
As Glass began to explain that he has no regrets from his last campaign, a bee flew into the cup of coffee he was sipping outside of Zed’s Café in downtown Silver Spring.
“I feel bad for this thing,” he said while rescuing it with his spoon. “C’mon, fly away.”
Glass, 40, said he and Hucker, who’s now on the Montgomery County Council, are good friends. He is optimistic heading into an at-large race that is reported to include more than 20 candidates vying for four at-large seats, though so far 13 have filed. The 2014 race, Glass said, was an important learning experience.
“That was the first time I ever knocked on a door or made a phone call as a candidate for myself. I was learning as I was doing,” he said.
The issues he hopes to emphasize in the upcoming campaign include job creation, public transportation improvements and a reduction of overcrowding in public schools. The latter problem, he thinks, can be solved by converting vacant buildings in the county into schools.
“I think as the office parks are no longer used and some strip malls are dying, it provides opportunities for us to be creative in how we transform those pieces of property,” he said.
Politics is a second act for Glass. He spent 12 years as a journalist with CNN, where he reported on Congress and covered the 2008 presidential campaign. He first entered public service in the early 2000s after moving from Bethesda to Silver Spring when the latter city’s downtown was still being developed.
“As I was walking to the Metro with hundreds of my neighbors to go to work, I realized there were sidewalks that were crumbling and crosswalks that had not been installed,” he said.
Glass decided to get involved in local politics and helped found the South Silver Spring Neighborhood Association to discuss and take action on local issues such as transportation and public safety. For several years, he spent his day working on Capitol Hill as a reporter, and then would take Metro home and attend neighborhood association meetings. This, he said, provided a stark contrast between how slowly things get accomplished at the federal level in comparison to the local level.
“While I’m covering Congress and nothing is getting done, I’m coming home at night and getting sidewalks built and helping our business owners go through the licensing and regulatory process and achieving some success,” he said. “And that is why I got into local politics.”
Glass said he had a dream job at CNN, but a busy travel schedule was leaving him less time to spend with his husband, neighbors and friends. In 2011, he decided to pursue public service as a profession.
The career change was personal. Glass joined the civil rights organization Equality Maryland, which was advocating the passage of a marriage equality bill in the Maryland General Assembly. Glass said the fight for marriage equality and legalization of same sex marriage in 2012 marked a turning point in his journey from objective observer to political participant.
“For the first time in my life, I was actually able to say, ‘I’m a gay man who supports marriage equality, and I’m going to publicly fight for my civil rights,’” he said. “And that was the first time I ever got political.”
After Glass’ unsuccessful 2014 campaign, he became the executive director of Gandhi Brigade youth media, an after-school program that teaches middle and high school students how to pursue activism and social justice through digital media.
He said his set of experiences as a nonprofit leader, civic leader and journalist has helped influence his decision to go into politics. But Glass said he also owes part of his life ambition to the single mom who raised him on Long Island.
“My politics started with my mother, seeing how hard she struggled, seeing that women were not always treated fairly and not given the credit that they deserve,” he said.
Glass said his mother, who died from lung cancer 14 years ago, had a neighborly spirit necessary for a successful community.
“She would be the woman at the grocery store who would just start talking to you, just wanting to know you were well and asking how your day was,” he said. “To me, that’s what community’s all about, checking in on your neighbor.”