SANTA ANA ( — Orange County supervisors approved a contract on Tuesday for a new chief executive officer, after nearly a year with an interim CEO.

Supervisors hired 54-year-old Mike Giancola to fill the county’s top appointed position. A 34-year veteran of the county, Giancola began his career as a parks groundskeeper and worked his way up to director of O.C. Waste and Recycling.

Giancola, who holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Phoenix and certification as a hazardous material manager from University of California Irvine, has worked in the county’s waste department for the past 25 years. He was named director in 2009.

Supervisors praised Giancola Tuesday and said his hiring sends the right message about the ability to rise in the ranks of the county through hard work.

The hiring of Giancola came after an attempt to recruit Santa Barbara County CEO Chandra L. Wallar failed. The county reportedly refused to meet her demands on salary and relocation costs.

Shawn Nelson, chairman of the Orange County Board of Supervisors, and Supervisor Pat Bates formed a subcommittee to revisit their initial search, and encouraged Giancola to apply.

County officials are reportedly not worried about Giancola’s role in a lawsuit that the county has tentatively agreed to try to settle for $350,000.

Officials say Giancola was cleared by an independent review of the case, which alleges he unfairly demoted a former human resources manager.

The approval of Giancola comes nearly a year after the seat was vacated by former CEO Tom Mauk. Mauk resigned in July following the arraignment of former Santa Ana City Councilman Carlos Bustamante on multiple felony sex charges.

Mauk was the third county executive who oversaw Bustamante to resign or go on leave following the scandal, in which Bustamante is alleged to have sexually assaulted at least seven female county employees while at the Public Works Department.

Chief Financial Officer Robert Franz has served as interim CEO since late July.

Giancola will earn a base salary of $245,000, $8,000 less than former CEO Mauk’s yearly pay.

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)