Sandwich’s first-ever city administrator no stranger to the community

Sandwich Mayor Todd Latham (left) and new city administrator Geoff Panman (right) after his appointment at an Oct. 17 2022 city council meeting at City Hall.

Sandwich’s first-ever city administrator is no stranger to the community. Geoff Penman grew up in Sandwich, attended Prairie View Elementary School and graduated from Sandwich High School.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in parks, recreation and leisure studies from the University of St. Francis in Joliet, Penman returned to Sandwich and worked as recreation director at the Sandwich Park District from 1993 to 1997.

Penman moved away in 1997, but returned in 2013, and has lived with his wife and two children in Sandwich for the past nine years.

In his time away from Sandwich, Penman worked for park districts and departments all over Illinois and a city in Wisconsin, most recently serving as director of parks and planning for the Downers Grove Park District since 2012.

Penman was appointed city administrator Oct. 17 in an unanimous vote by the Sandwich City Council.

Mayor Todd Latham said he believes Penman’s multiple areas of expertise will make him a good fit for the role and hopes he will excel in team building between departments, grant writing and economic development.

Penman said he believes a big part of local government is being able to create teams and work together.

“That’s something I’ve been able to do wherever I’ve been,” Penman said. “I think that’s going to be a huge part of this job, is to be able to work with the other entities in the community so we’re all pulling in the same direction.”

Penman said he will start with small steps such as daily oversight and guidance and improving communication and efficiency, but thinks the position will evolve over time as the council sees fit.

“My job is to make sure that they have the information they need to do a good job and make good decisions,” Penman said. “They have to decide where we want to go, I just have to make sure we can get there.”

Penman says he sees his position as a conduit between the staff, the mayor and council, to make sure recommendations from staff are communicated in a way that fully informs the council before they make decisions.

“I’ve always hated the term, ‘You can’t fight city hall,’” Penman said. “I don’t want anybody to have to fight. The bottom line is that we should be trying to serve the community as best we can and provide the services we can to the best of our ability.”

As the first city administrator in Sandwich’s 163-year history, Penman will earn an annual salary of $100,000 with benefits. He will also have use of a city vehicle when needed.

Alderman Fred Kreinbrink welcomed Penman to the council at the end of his inaugural meeting, saying he was very pleased with his 30-, 60- and 90-day plans for city government.

“Welcome, Geoff. I’m looking forward to the future that you’re going to help lead, bringing Sandwich to the front end,” Kreinbrink said. “Typically, we tend to be the followers and now we’re actually the leaders in this.”

Of the many communities he has served, Penman said there is something unique about Sandwich. He said the city is special in that its community stretches well beyond the city limits, and Sandwich is the heart of it.

“I’m excited and thankful for the opportunity,” Penman said. “This is a position that has been needed by the city for a long time. It’s a step in the right direction.”