Gov. Pat Quinn on Friday appointed a central Illinois physician and failed congressional candidate as assistant director of the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Quinn named fellow Democrat David Gill of Bloomington to the $127,739-a-year post. The governor's office listed Gill in a news release along with several other appointments to state boards and commissions.
Gill, 53, ran for Congress four times, most recently, losing a close race in November to Republican Rodney Davis in the 13th District.
His appointment is not a political favor, Gill said, but instead will bring to Illinois his more than two decades of experience as a practicing physician. He noted his longtime membership in Physicians for a National Health Program, an organization that advocates for a single-payer national health system.
"I think I bring a unique set of experiences and views to the position," Gill said. He said the national health overhaul, President Barack Obama's signature domestic achievement, is "a decent first step toward having an excellent health care system here in America."
Quinn spokesman Grant Klinzman said in an email that Gill's appointment was based on his qualifications and "nothing else."
"He's a strong advocate for public health and universal access to decent health care," Klinzman said. "He knows the challenges of our health care system from his professional and personal experiences, and is well-versed in the Affordable Care Act."
A focus for Gill will be "the complex needs of rural health communities statewide," Klinzman said.
Gill, an emergency room doctor at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal, said he'll actually take "a bit of a pay cut" to work at the state health department. He'll continue to work some weekend shifts at the hospital to keep his skills sharp, he said.
He received his bachelor's and medical degrees from the University of Illinois and has also worked as a family practice doctor.
Gill will work with the agency's director, Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck, who was appointed by Quinn last year. Hasbrouck, a former director of public health in upstate New York, spent more than a decade at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where he was part of the epidemic intelligence service. He also worked to reduce and eliminate diseases abroad, including efforts to eradicate polio in Bangladesh.