A political activist, whose name has been mentioned within Prince George's County Democratic circles for several appointive positions in recent months, was named to the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission this week by the County Council.
The appointment of Marvin L. Gay, a black, 30-year-old field underwriter and life insurance salesman for New York Life Insurance Company, was approved by a 6-to-1 vote after a public hearing in which several of Gay's neighbors and friends commended his "loyalty" and "leadership" qualities.
Council Member Samuel W. Bogley, the lone dissenter, said he voted against Gay's appointment, because "he lacks the expertise we need on the commission."
Bogley said Gay has little experience in science, engineering or water and sewer matters.
"We already have members who are attuned to the public need," said Bogley. "There are so many facts and figures, what with water rates and contracts, you have to be fully cognizant of the whole picture. Those staff members over there can eat you up (with information)."
Bogley, as well as several council members, did acknowledge Gay's work in the community and his ability to be "a self-starter."
Council Member William B. Amonett said he had campaigned with Gay. "I known him as a very articulate and bright young man. He has a civic sense, a business sense, but most important of all, he has common sense. He is a team player."
Council Member Parris N. Glendening questioned Bogley's contention that some members of the six-person commission should have some professional background in the water and sewer area. "I have concern about appointing engineers to some of these commissions."
The current commission make-up includes a nurse, a retired foreign service officer, a retired supervisor of design from the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, the president of a retail sporting goods and tennis store and a community activist.
"I just don't think this position should be used as a political plum," said Bogley.
Gay, who is considered to be a party regular, recently had been nominated along with others for a position on the Orphans Court, and, according to a source close to the Democratic Central Committee, "it had been decided that the next major county appointment was going to be his."
Gay said he has been spending the past five weeks since County Executive Winfield M. Kelly nominated him to the position being "an unofficial observer with unofficial briefings" on the workings of the WSSC.
"I can't boast of any expertise in the field," Gay said, "but I think I can bring to the commission a capability and an ability to understand issues and bring them to the people."
Gay, a resident of Hillcrest Heights, replaces Joe Woodrick who resigned to take a position on the staff of Acting Gov. Blair Lee III. As one of three Prince George's commissioners on the bi-county agency, he will make $8,000 a year for what is considered a part-time job.