TAMPA — In a surprise move, Mayor Bob Buckhorn Thursday said he has taken the "acting" out of Julia Mandell's job as city attorney.
When Jim Shimberg Jr. left the job in April, Buckhorn said he was confident Mandell, then a senior assistant city attorney, would handle the job well on an interim basis, but he expected to go outside City Hall for a permanent replacement.
Since then, however, Mandell has "proven herself to be a key member of our team," Buckhorn said in announcing the appointment.
"She has a working knowledge of how to get things done in local government, and the city will benefit from that experience," he said.
Mandell, 43, has been at City Hall for nine years, handling matters ranging from land use, real estate and historic preservation to the First Amendment, signs and transportation. As city attorney, she'll supervise nearly two dozen lawyers, plus paralegals and support staff.
Mandell earned her bachelor's and law degrees from the University of Florida and is board certified in city, county and local government law.
Before coming to the city in 2004, she worked as an assistant county attorney for Hillsborough County for about seven years.
"She's perfect for the job," said Shimberg, who left City Hall to become executive vice president and general counsel for the parent company of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
He said Mandell's experience with Hillsborough County will be valuable as city and county officials work on investigating possible stadium sites for the Tampa Bay Rays and renewing Tampa's downtown redevelopment district, which is seen as a key funding source for a downtown stadium.
If confirmed by the City Council, Mandell will be the second woman to serve as Tampa's city attorney.
The first, appointed by then-Mayor Sandy Freedman, was Pam Akin, now the city attorney in Clearwater. Mandell's salary will be $153,000.
"I'm honored," said Mandell, who was hired at Hillsborough County by Emmy Acton, the first woman to serve as county attorney and a mentor and friend who Mandell said "taught me as a baby attorney."
"I'm pleased to stand on the shoulders of some other great women," she said.