1. News

St. Petersburg city attorney to retire

Published Apr. 18, 2015

ST. PETERSBURG — After four decades of legal advocacy for his adopted hometown, City Attorney John Wolfe will step down this summer, Mayor Rick Kriseman announced Friday.

The mayor has tapped Chief Assistant City Attorney Jacqueline Kovilaritch to replace him on Aug. 1, pending the approval of City Council.

Reached by phone Friday afternoon, Wolfe said he felt the time was right to retire as he approached his 72nd birthday and felt the office was in good hands with Kovilaritch.

Asked what he viewed as his biggest accomplishment, Wolfe quipped: "Lasting 40 years."

He said taking part in the transformation of the city, including the addition of the Tampa Bay Rays and laying the foundation for the downtown renaissance, would be career milestones.

Wolfe is widely credited with crafting the use agreement with the Rays that strongly protected the city's interests. The agreement is considered iron-clad, with new Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred recently saying as much.

Kovilaritch, 48, took the lead in the most recent negotiations with the team. She was promoted to chief assistant in December. She joined the city's legal staff in 2000 and has specialized in First Amendment law, ethics law, pension and public finance, according to the news release.

"Jackie is uniquely qualified to serve as city attorney," Kriseman said. "I am confident that her education, experience and temperament have prepared her well for this leadership position."

City Council will have to confirm her appointment.

Wolfe joined the city attorney's office in 1975. He became the city attorney in 2000. He came to Florida from Pittsburgh after graduating from Carnegie Mellon University and working for several years as a nuclear engineer.

He will take a 10 percent pay cut and stay on to help Kovilaritch in her transition, formally retiring in January 2016.

Currently, Wolfe makes $162,878 and Kovilaritch makes $151,700. It's unknown what Kovilaritch's new salary will be, said Ben Kirby, Kriseman's spokesman.

Contact Charlie Frago at or (727) 893-8459. Follow @CharlieFrago


  1. James Rybicki, 63, faces charges of lewd and lascivious molestation and possession of child pornography. But he could go free after a judge found that Pinellas sheriff’s detectives and Pinellas-Pasco prosecutors lied to obtain a search warrant in his case. Pinellas County Sheriff's Office
    A Pinellas sheriff’s detective and Pinellas-Pasco prosecutors “made false statements” to obtain a search warrant, a judge has ruled. The evidence was thrown out.
  2. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., left, with Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif, the ranking member, concludes a day of testimony by key witnesses as it probes President Donald Trump's efforts to tie U.S. aid for Ukraine to investigations of his political opponents, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE  |  AP
    The United States ambassador to the European Union told the impeachment inquiry his efforts to press Ukraine to announce investigations were ordered by President Trump, and top officials knew.
  3. The woman was arrested and charged with aggravated assault with a motor vehicle and culpable negligence.
  4. Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Pamela Campbell during a hearing to review the guardianship cases once overseen by Traci Hudson, who faces criminal charges in one of those cases. Hudson was not present during Wednesday's hearing in a St. Petersburg courtroom. Pinellas sheriff's detectives say she stole more than $500,000 from an elderly man for whom she held power of attorney. Court records show she was appointed as a guardian in about two dozen cases. DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Traci Hudson had served as guardian overseeing the affairs of 26 people until her arrest on a charge of exploitation of the elderly. Her handling of those cases will be reviewed.
  5. Robert "Bobby" Mavis, 40, top left, is shown in this family photo with his wife Elizabeth and their children, from left, Evan, Kendall and Kyle. The father of three died in the Nov. 13 chain-reaction crash on northbound Interstate 75 in Hillsborough County. Courtesy Elizabeth Mavis
    Robert “Bobby” Mavis, 40, was on his way home from work last week when a semi-trailer truck crashed into his Mercedes.
  6. Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority bus driver Rekira Owens is seen at the wheel behind a newly installed shield as they board the bus on Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019, in Tampa.  The clear divider is meant to protect drivers from physical assaults after a driver was killed earlier this year. A bus driver on Tuesday was operating a vehicle without a shield when he was attacked by a rider. CAITLIN JOHNSTON  |  Times
    About 75 buses still need the clear, plastic doors. The transit authority plans to install eight a day.
  7. Bins filled with products move on conveyor belts at the Amazon Fulfillment Center in Ruskin. Amazon just announced it will open a similar center in Auburndale, Fla. (Times | 2018) Tampa Bay Times
    The new center will span more than 1 million square feet and be No. 11 in the state.
  8. Vacant land along Manhattan Avenue at the north end of MacDill Air Force base may the site of the forgotten Port Tampa Cemetery. OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times
    The property was a burial ground for people who lived in the old city of Port Tampa.
  9. An overlay map showing where Ridgewood Cemetery is located on the King High School campus. The red outline indicates the boundary of the cemetery and the pink boxes the graves. GeoView
    Ridgewood Cemetery, a pauper’s burial ground from the mid-20th century, was sold to the school district as part of the property where King was later built.
  10. Ashley Laquita Moore, 34, was arrested and charged with aggravated assault and culpable negligence after intentionally running into a bus. Hillsborough County Sherriff's Office
    Ashley Laquita Moore faces charges of aggravated assault with a motor vehicle and culpable negligence.