Virginia Gov. Charles S. Robb moved to pay off two campaign debts yesterday by naming a beer distributor to the state's Alcoholic Beverage Commission and a black physician to the Highway and Transportation Commission.
The appointments of James Y. Coggin Sr. of Warsaw to the ABC board and Dr. William M.T. Forrester of Richmond to the highway commission were part of a major reshuffling of 25 state boards and commmissions, whose members' terms expired yesterday. Forrester will be the first black to serve on the influential highway panel.
The Democratic governor, attempting to quell two political storms that have buffeted his administration recently, also appointed two relatively unknown professional administrators to head the state's prison system and the Water Control Board.
The appointment of 34-year-old Richard N. Burton as executive director of the water board won tentative praise yesterday from environmentalists who, in the past, have criticized that agency as being too soft on industrial polluters. Burton has served as acting director since March 28, when Robert V. Davis was ousted as board chief amid allegations of favoritism and mismanagement.
The governor also named Robert M. Landon, a former Army military police officer and North Dakota prison warden, as the new director of the state Department of Corrections. Landon, a soft-spoken and mild-mannered administrator, has served as acting director since May 13, when former director Raymond Procunier was forced to resign because of disagreements with the Robb administration over budget cuts.
In naming Coggin to the ABC post, Robb was rewarding a campaign contributor to his 1981 gubernatorial campaign and a former president of the Virginia Beer Wholesalers Association, whose members are directly affected by ABC board decisions. Coggin pledged to divest himself of his beer distributing interests, but asserted that his industry background would be an asset to the board.
"As someone who has seen the wholesale business firsthand, I know the industry," Coggin said.
At the same time, Robert Grey, a Richmond lawyer who last year was named by Robb as the first black in the ABC board's history, was promoted to the chairmanship of the panel.