Lake County hires interim administrator while search resumes

  • Newly appointed Interim Lake County Administrator Gary Gibson

    Newly appointed Interim Lake County Administrator Gary Gibson

Updated 9/10/2019 3:55 PM

The job is pulling him out of retirement, but Lake County's new interim administrator said a "debt of gratitude" he owes the county led him to resume his lengthy public service career.

Former Assistant Administrator Gary Gibson was hired for the interim post Tuesday during the Lake County Board's monthly meeting in Waukegan.


Gibson, 62, of Lake Bluff, will oversee hundreds of employees while the county board searches for a more permanent appointee. He will start Wednesday.

Gibson said he feels a debt to Lake County because of how board members supported him during his wife's treatment for cancer nearly 20 years ago while he was an employee. The disease is in remission now.

"If I can help during this (transitional) time, it was a no-brainer for me," Gibson said.

An interim leader is needed is needed because Administrator Bill Panos quit effective Tuesday, only two months into his tenure. Panos is taking a state job in North Dakota.

Gibson served as assistant county administrator from 1993 to 2008. That included five months as interim administrator.

He also worked as assistant manager, and then manager, for the county's workforce investment board from 2008 to 2017, and in other governmental roles.

Gibson's new annual salary was set at $210,473, officials said.

Veteran county Commissioner Judy Martini worked with Gibson years ago and praised his abilities.

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"He was always professional and has (a) vast knowledge of Lake County government," said Martini, a Fox Lake Republican.

Panos is among several top Lake County staffers who've resigned in the past year. They include his predecessor and several assistant or deputy administrators.

The county board is using a Northbrook recruiting firm called GovHR USA to help find its next administrator. A time frame wasn't available.

Interviews will be closed to the public, board Chairwoman Sandy Hart said Wednesday. All board members will be invited to attend.

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