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Tallahassee City Attorney Retiring After Almost 40 Years At City Hall

Jim English.jpg
City of Tallahassee

After 37 years working with the city of Tallahassee, City Attorney Jim English is retiring. Mayor John Marks thanked English for his service at Wednesday’s commission meeting, which was English's last on the job.

English started representing the city in the mid-1970s for his private practice. He was officially appointed city attorney about 30 years ago and has been serving at City Hall ever since.

During Wednesday’s meeting, former Tallahassee mayor and returning commissioner Scott Maddox said, English is the best city attorney in Florida.

“Jim, you’ve been a mentor to me personally. The fact that you would take a 24-year-old city commissioner under your wing, who obviously didn’t know anything, and cared enough to do it, you were a personal mentor to me, and I appreciate it greatly. I feel like you helped me grow up in public policy," Maddox said.

English said, being city attorney means striking a balance between serving the people of Tallahassee and the city commissioners.

“You are the citizens' lawyer, you are responsible to them," he said. "And at the same time, you have your bosses that you report to directly”

The most rewarding part of his job, he said, is working with the commission and staff to change the community for the better. And his proudest accomplishment is acquiring the land for the planned Cascades Park in downtown Tallahassee. He said, the land deal was taking much longer than it should have.

"And finally, I ended up meeting personally with Gov. Bush and explained how important this was to the community and that we would do a job that would make everybody  proud," he said.

But his tenure hasn’t been all smooth sailing. While he often stayed out of conflict, even through several contentious years when city and county commissioners weren’t getting along, he said, he recently has found himself on the receiving end of some personal attacks from city government critics.

"It goes with the territory, but it’s not pleasant. And it’s probably not fair, but it’s part of it," he said.  "Unfortunately, people just have to develop a tougher and tougher skin.”

English’s last day on staff is Dec. 31, but he said, he’ll continue helping oversee the new ethics commission. And, he said, he looks forward to restoring a 1958 boat built by his father’s company and traveling with his wife, who also retired this month.