TAMPA — Mayor Bob Buckhorn named senior assistant city attorney Julia Mandell as acting city attorney Tuesday, the last day on the job for City Attorney Jim Shimberg.
"I think she'll do a great job on the interim basis," Buckhorn said.
Mandell, 43, who has been at City Hall for nearly nine years, said she was excited to have the chance to serve the city in the new role.
As a senior assistant city attorney, her assignments include handling issues related to land use, real estate, the First Amendment, signs, transportation and historic preservation.
She also manages five lawyers in the land-use section of the office.
Before coming to the city in 2004, Mandell worked as an assistant county attorney for Hillsborough County for about seven years. She received her bachelor's and law degrees from the University of Florida and is board certified in city, county and local government law.
Shimberg said he is "very confident that she will do an outstanding job as acting city attorney for however long Mayor Buckhorn decides to keep her in that position."
Buckhorn said he has not made a decision "but probably will soon" on a permanent replacement for Shimberg, who is leaving City Hall to become executive vice president and general counsel for the parent company of the Tampa Bay Lighting.
"It's just one of those things that's a tougher decision than most because it's such a personal decision," the mayor said. He said he has talked to one candidate for the job, though he wouldn't say who.
"For me, it's more about my gut," Buckhorn said. He got to know Shimberg in the 1980s when the two worked on the campaign of then-County Commission candidate Pam Iorio.
As a result, Shimberg has served Buckhorn not only with his expertise in real estate, land use and government comprehensive planning, but also as someone Buckhorn says he trusts "implicitly" — as much consigliere as legal adviser.
"I don't know that I'd ever be able to replicate it, just because of that 25-year friendship," Buckhorn said. "But I'd like to get as close to that as I possibly can. For me, that comfort level is important in that job, more so than perhaps any other job here."
As for a permanent replacement, Buckhorn said, "I think I probably will wind up going external."