Laquidara says time is right to leave

Jacksonville General Counsel discusses 16 years in office

By Bruce Hamilton - The Morning Show anchor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Jacksonville General Counsel Cindy Laquidara sat down with Channel 4's Bruce Hamilton on "The Morning Show" Monday, saying the time is right for her to leave City Hall.

Laquidara spoke about her accomplishments and frustration in the office she's held since 1998.

She announced her resignation last week.

"It's been so long," Laquidara said. "I feel like the elected officials I came back to support are well on their way. They understand the process; whether they like it or not, that's their issue. But they understand it."

Laquidara was originally set to resign in 2011 but was persuaded by Mayor Alvin Brown to remain. She said Monday the time is now right to make a move because the office is in a good place.

"I have a wonderful office, made a number of significant hires in that office to make sure it doesn't miss a beat when I go," Laquidara said. "I've always wanted to get back to private practice."

She also spoke about her sometimes contentious relationship with City Council.

"I like to say I don't really butt heads with my clients," Laquidara said. "That's in the time-honored tradition since Cicero in the Roman Senate. You advise your clients and take their positions. They could do anything short of something that violates the charter or state or federal law. It's a complicated area sometimes."

Even though a successor has yet to be named, Laquidara tenders this advice for Jacksonville's next top lawyer:

"Just do the right thing," she said. "You're the lawyer, not the elected official. Our advice is there to help facilitate. Everybody elects these men and women, and we have to help them do whatever it is they want to do. It's up to the electorate to like them or not like them. It's not up to us."

Laquidara leaves office July 1 and will join the law firm Akerman Senterfitt, dissecting the same kind of law she did for the city, only now for the private sector.

Brown will appoint Laquidara's successor but has yet to say who he wants to occupy the office.

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