SYCAMORE – Gary Hanson was named the new DeKalb County administrator Wednesday by a unanimous vote from County Board members, ending a lengthy search process originally expected to end in August.
Hanson will replace DeKalb County Administrator Ray Bockman, who has held the position for 28 years, starting in December. Hanson has served in DeKalb County government for 29 years.
He will make a base annual salary of $155,000.
After being named the new administrator, an emotional Hanson thanked the board members, his mentor Bockman, department heads and his family for their support and confidence. He said he has much to be thankful during this holiday season.
“To whom much is given, much is expected ... and I have been given much,” Hanson said. “I know much is expected, and I am ready for that challenge.”
A late change in the county’s search process opened the door for Hanson to become the next administrator. After leaving interviews with finalists unimpressed in July, board members decided to restart the process and use the opportunity to change requirements for the job.
The board changed the county code to allow candidates with 10 years of local government management, nine of which must be at the administrative level, to apply for the position without a master’s degree.
The previous code required a master’s degree in either business or public administration as well as years of experience, although not as many.
Board members also hired search firm Voorhees Associates for $19,900 to handle the second round of the candidate search.
Not everyone supported Hanson earlier in the process, but they voiced their support Wednesday when the final vote came.
Executive committee members including Board Chairman Larry Anderson, R-Malta, Ken Andersen, R-Sycamore and John Gudmunson, R-Somonauk, had recommended finalist Sue McLaughlin to their committee a week earlier but changed their stance Wednesday.
Andersen said he was primarily concerned with bringing “new blood” into the county at first, but after thinking about the decision more and speaking with people in the county, he is confident the right person was chosen for the job.
“We picked the best candidate,” Andersen said. “I am 100 percent confident.”
Bockman was also honored at the meeting as he was told there would be a bench in his honor installed at one of the county’s forest preserves and his final day on the job – Nov. 30 – would be Ray Bockman Day in DeKalb County.
After more than 350 County Board meetings, Bockman said he could not have asked for a better ending.
“I leave tonight knowing the county is in good hands,” he said of Hanson’s appointment.