Tampa City Attorney Julia Mandell leaving for private practice; Sal Territo promoted to succeed her
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn on Tuesday promoted chief assistant city attorney Salvatore Territo to replace City Attorney Julia Mandell, who is leaving City Hall for a job with the law firm of Carlton Fields.
Territo has worked for the city on and off since 1972, initially as a planner. In 1980, he joined the city attorney’s office after graduating from the Stetson University College of Law.
Over the years, Territo, 74, also has worked in the private sector and served as a planning commissioner and hearing examiner in Lee County and as an adjunct professor at the University of South Florida.
In 2005, he returned to City Hall where he’s served as chief assistant city attorney and as head of the office’s transactional and administrative section. A regular presence at City Council meetings, he has a direct, matter-of-fact style of speaking and tends to be a calming influence during tense discussions.
“This promotion is a natural and seamless transition,” Buckhorn said in an announcement of the decision. “Sal has served the city through nine administrations, and his expertise in municipal finance and underwriting is unparalleled. He knows city government as well as anybody and will not miss a beat stepping into this role.”
In a statement released through the mayor’s office, Mandell said Territo has been “a great mentor to me during my years with the city and will continue to be a great mentor to all of the attorneys and staff in the office."
Buckhorn named Mandell, 46, to the job in 2013. The second woman to hold the job, she succeeded James Shimberg Jr., who left the city to take a job with Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik.
Prior to being named city attorney, Mandell had worked for the city for nine years, handling issues involving land use, real estate, historic preservation, signs and transportation. In the city attorney’s job, she supervised a staff of about three dozen lawyers, paralegals and support staff.
“She’s done a great job. I loved working with her,” Buckhorn said. “She has been a true public servant in every sense of the word, and her contributions to this administration’s success are many. While we will miss her, we could not be happier for her continued success.”
As city attorney, Mandell has been paid a salary of $170,581 annually, the same as Territo will receive, and landed in the middle of several high profile issues, including the city’s work with Vinik and Cascade Investment to launch his $3 billion redevelopment of 40 acres around Amalie Arena.
She also worked on contentious issues, including lawsuits over the city’s bans on public begging and Buckhorn’s tug-of-war in 2015 with the City Council over the creation of a citizens review board for the Police Department.
During review board debate, Mandell said the city charter gave Buckhorn the authority to create the review board by executive order, which he did, and to decide how many of the board’s members he and the council would appoint.
Eventually, Buckhorn and council members compromised on which side got what appointments, but not before then-council chairman Frank Reddick said he thought Mandell had a conflict of interest because the mayor had hired her and she was taking his side.
Mandell responded that she worked for the city as a whole, not just the mayor, and had checked with three previous city attorneys on the question. She went on to hire a lawyer from Carlton Fields for $10,000 to review the question of whether she had a conflict. The opinion, from Gwynne Young, then the immediate past president of the Florida Bar, was no; there was no conflict.