Clearwater chooses new municipal lawyer for first time in 27 years


CLEARWATER – The city has chosen a new lawyer to head its legal department for the first time in nearly three decades.

City council voted unanimously on Tuesday to begin negotiations with David Margolis, assistant chief prosecutor for the city of Orlando.

Margolis will succeed municipal lawyer Pam Akin, who is due to retire on October 4 after 27 years in the post.

Officials have repeatedly praised the quality of the five finalists, including internal nominee Matthew Smith, Clearwater’s deputy senior counsel since 2014. But they said Margolis had the edge in in-person interviews. The position has a salary range of $ 210,000 to $ 240,000.

“The energy, enthusiasm and preparation of Mr. Margolis really blew me away,” said Mark Bunker, Board Member.

Margolis, 40, has been the assistant chief prosecutor for the city of Orlando since 2019, where he oversees eight attorneys and paralegals and leads the public safety legal team, as per his request.

Previously, he worked as General Counsel for the Orange County Clerk of the Circuit Court, Public Safety Legal Advisor for Hollywood, Florida, and Regional Legal Advisor for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

In an interview with the Tampa Bay TimesMargolis said he grew up with an interest in “good government,” which prompted him to pursue law.

He said he wanted to be part of the “big ideas” happening in Clearwater, like the downtown redevelopment, the adoption of the Greenprint 2.0 environmental policy and strategic planning.

“They showed, I think, a great vision of what the community can look like and I’ve always wanted to be a part of something big like that,” said Margolis.

Clearwater is also going through a significant transition period in leadership with a concurrent search this year for a new City Manager and City Lawyer.

Akin spent most of his 27 years with former city manager Bill Horne, who ruled the city for 20 years. Horne died on August 14 of a suspected heart attack, three weeks before his planned retirement and in the midst of the search for his successor.

Margolis said this period presents an opportunity for the new city attorney and city manager to form a partnership like the one between Akin and Horne, which he says has served the city well.

The council is due to interview four finalists for the post of city manager on September 1 and 2.

“It’s an opportunity to work with a new city manager and build this relationship from scratch,” said Margolis.

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