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Clearwater narrows finalists for city attorney

The field includes an internal candidate and lawyers from across Florida who are vying to replace city attorney Pam Akin, who is retiring after 27 years.
The City Council met on Monday to select five finalists in the search to replace city attorney Pam Akin, who is retiring after 27 years.
The City Council met on Monday to select five finalists in the search to replace city attorney Pam Akin, who is retiring after 27 years. [ Tracey McManus ]
Published Jul. 26

CLEARWATER — The Clearwater City Council on Monday selected five finalists for the next city attorney, the next step in finding a successor to Pam Akin who will retire after 27 years leading the legal department.

The process is running parallel to, and more efficiently than, the search for a city manager to replace Bill Horne, who is retiring after 20 years. In June, the council restarted a nationwide city manager search after four of the five finalists dropped out before interviews began.

On Monday, the council chose five finalists from the 15 applicants and eight semifinalists for city attorney, praising the quality of the candidates and noting the difference in efficiency of the process compared to the city manager. Both searches are being conducted by consulting firm Baker Tilly.

The finalists are: Aleksandr Boksner, deputy city attorney of Miami Beach; David Margolis, chief assistant city attorney of Orlando; Barnaby Min, deputy city attorney of Miami; Matthew Smith, senior assistant city attorney of Clearwater; and Patricia Smith, city attorney of Palm Bay.

“I know that we’re going to find somebody that will be excellent,” Mayor Frank Hibbard said. “They are never going to replace Ms. Akin, but I know that we’ll have a good candidate at the end of the day.”

Clearwater senior assistant attorney Michael Fuino was the other internal applicant. Council members praised Fuino’s talent but Hibbard said he needed more experience for the top job.

Baker Tilly will now conduct reference checks and background verifications on the city attorney finalists, according to director Anne Lewis. Interviews are scheduled for Aug. 23 and Aug. 24, according to the consultant’s schedule. The start date for the hire is scheduled for Oct. 4.

The council will meet Aug. 5 to discuss the consultant’s report on the city manager applicants and to select finalists.