Quinn appoints Gill to state post; Callis may run in 13th
SPRINGFIELD — Dr. David Gill, who has run unsuccessfully for Congress four times in races covering Champaign County and other parts of central Illinois, has been named assistant director of the Illinois Department of Public Health by Gov. Pat Quinn. He starts his new $127,739 a year job on Monday.
The appointment means that Gill, a Democrat, will not run for Congress in the 13th District next year.
"I have been weighing both of these things, another campaign and this position, and have decided to do this," he said Friday.
Coincidentally, the announcement of Gill's appointment to the state job came on the same day that Madison County Chief Judge Ann Callis reportedly told colleagues that she is stepping down to run for Congress.
Callis, a Democrat, is expected to make an official announcement next week. She could not be reached for comment Friday.
George Gollin, a University of Illinois physics professor, also is considering seeking the Democratic nomination for Congress in the district.
Gill said he was contacted by a Quinn aide about the public health agency position.
"They started talking to me a few months ago about this," Gill said. "The governor, he and I have always gotten along very well. I think we see the world through the same public health perspective. We have some mutual friends. And so we've known each other for a long time now. The governor reached out to me and I've been mulling this for quite a long time."
Quinn gave $250 to Gill's 2012 campaign fund.
Last year, Gill lost to U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, by 1,002 votes in the congressional district that runs from Champaign-Urbana on the northeast to the Illinois suburbs of St. Louis on the southwest.
Gill, 53, of Bloomington, is an emergency room physician at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal. He said he hopes to continue working "a little bit" at the hospital on a part-time basis.
"I might just take a couple shifts on weekends," he said.
Gill received his undergraduate and medical degrees from the University of Illinois.
He ran in the old 15th Congressional District three times against U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson, R-Urbana — in 2004, 2006 and 2010 — and last year in the 13th District against Davis. His closest race against Johnson was in 2006 when he got 42 percent of the vote. But last year Gill lost to Davis by 46.55 percent to 46.21 percent.
Gill's appointment will require conformation by the Illinois Senate.
He will work primarily out of the department's Springfield office.
"And my understanding is there will be some travel involved in the job as well, representing the governor at different events," he said. "It's not a well-defined position in terms of its responsibilities. But I'd like to do some coordination with the regional public health offices. And I've always had an interest in provision of care to people and there's going to be a lot of work in connection with the Affordable Care Act. I'd like to help make that changeover as smooth as possible for patients and providers."
Gill said he realizes the appointment may be temporary, depending on whether Quinn runs for and wins re-election next year.
"But all of my adult life I've had an interest in public health and I'm excited about this," he said. "Sure, I understand that I serve at the discretion of the governor and that the governor can change."