TAMPA — Mayor Bob Buckhorn made his first major appointment Tuesday, naming Holland & Knight partner and longtime friend James H. Shimberg Jr. as his new city attorney.
Shimberg, 51, will leave private practice and join the city on May 2 at a salary of $175,000 a year.
That's a pay cut from what he earns at Holland & Knight, where he leads the firm's Tampa Bay real estate group.
Shimberg has known Buckhorn for about 25 years, ever since the two worked on the campaign of then-County Commission candidate Pam Iorio.
Between Buckhorn's election and swearing-in, he volunteered to help the mayor-elect, thinking he might assist with the transition.
"I said, 'What can I do to help you?' " Shimberg said, "and he said, 'You can be my city attorney.' That kind of piqued my interest, and I started thinking about whether I could make it work and I decided that I could."
Shimberg will replace City Attorney Chip Fletcher, who is returning to private practice.
Also on Tuesday, Buckhorn announced plans to reappoint police Chief Jane Castor and fire Chief Tom Forward to their jobs. All three appointments are scheduled to go to the City Council for confirmation, as required by the city charter, on April 28.
In announcing Shimberg's appointment, Buckhorn's administration cited his experience at the local, regional and state levels. He has represented clients on issues related to zoning, land use, development and permitting for both commercial and residential projects.
In confidential surveys, Shimberg's peers in the legal community have given him the highest rating, an AV, that the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory awards for a lawyer's legal ability and ethical conduct.
Outside of his work at Holland & Knight, Shimberg has served on the governor's Commission on Community Service and on Tampa's Code Enforcement Board.
He also has been on the board of trustees of Congregation Schaarai Zedek and the Tampa Jewish Federation's Weinberg Village Assisted Living Facility.