Gray gets rights post

Former councilman to succeed Clanzy as head of county agency

January 17, 2007|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,sun reporter

Former five-term Howard County Councilman C. Vernon Gray is ending his 35-year career at Morgan State University to become administrator of the county's Office of Human Rights, County Executive Ken Ulman announced yesterday.

Gray, 67, is taking over the job from nine-year administrator Rufus F. Clanzy, also 67, who said last year that he planned to retire Jan. 31. Gray also will be executive secretary of the Human Rights Commission, as Clanzy has been.

The office works quietly to enforce the county's human rights laws, investigates complaints and tries to resolve them, often mediating disputes between businesses and employees or customers. Clanzy, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel who served more than 28 years, including two tours in Vietnam, started in county government in 1993 as director of General Services. He moved to the human rights office in 1998.

Gray, a political supporter of the Ulman campaign last year, also is serving on the executive's transition committee, overseeing a review of planning, zoning and housing issues. Gray said he was eager to take the job.

"I jumped at it," Gray said, explaining that he is happy to be involved in the new Ulman administration. "I want to be part of the exciting things. I believe in him."

Gray's new position will pay $110,573, compared with the $104,000 Clanzy receives.

"It's an opportunity to work with Ken to help him achieve his vision for the county," Gray said.

Ulman said Gray is the right person for the job. "I knew finding someone who would continue the great work Rufus has done these past nine years would be a challenge," Ulman said in a statement. "But if anyone can further Rufus' mission, it's Dr. Gray."

Clanzy said Gray's years of service should serve him well.

"You need experience and a degree of independence in this job," Clanzy said. "If you know the players, in a lot of these things you can get people in a room" and settle their differences.

Clanzy, a Columbia resident since 1971, said he is looking forward to more time for his hobbies: fishing, hunting, gardening and volunteer work.

Ulman has also asked Gray, a political science professor at Morgan and a past president of both the Maryland and the National Association of Counties, to review county policies on encouraging the development of minority and women's businesses. He starts Feb. 1.

County Council Chairman Calvin Ball welcomed Gray, a Democrat whose picture adorns a series of official council photos in the conference room named after him in the George Howard Building. He served on the County Council from 1982 to 2002 before he was forced out by term limits. He ran for state Senate that year but lost to Sandra B. Schrader, a Republican.

"I think Dr. Gray has a wealth of experience and is a very capable individual," Ball said.

Former Councilman Charles C. Feaga, a western county Republican who served 12 years on the council during Gray's tenure, said, "Vernon is certainly capable of handling the job."

However, Feaga said, he feels the salary is too high for the position.

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