After 12 years as Revere’s mayor, Thomas G. Ambrosino decided to retire in order to seek other challenges. It did not take him long to find one.
On Jan. 4, two days after he officially left office, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court announced it had appointed Ambrosino to serve as its executive director, effective yesterday.
In his new $129,000 position, Ambrosino, 50, will oversee the day-to-day administration of the SJC, the state’s highest court, answering to the seven justices and in particular to Chief Justice Roderick L. Ireland.
Ambrosino will also represent the SJC in assisting the chief justice for administration and management of the trial court, Robert A. Mulligan, and whoever is named to the new position of court administrator, in the overall operation of the trial courts. The court administrator, a nonjudicial position, was created through a court reorganization bill adopted last year.
In a written statement, Ireland said of Ambrosino, “Tom has outstanding skills and an impressive history in building broad-based support among diverse constituents. The justices look forward to working with him in the challenging years ahead.’’
The former Revere mayor, who did not seek reelection last November, was selected from among more than 100 applicants for the position.
“I’m very excited. It’s a new challenge and a new opportunity and I’m looking forward to it,’’ said Ambrosino, a Harvard Law School graduate who practiced law for 14 years before assuming the mayor’s job in 2000, first as an associate in the Boston law firm of Palmer & Dodge and later running his own practice in Revere.
Ambrosino takes over for Clifford Allen, who had been acting executive director of the SJC since last July. Allen will remain reporter of decisions for the state’s appellate courts.
“I think it’s a great selection,’’ House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo, whose district includes part of Revere, said in a telephone interview. He called Ambrosino “a tremendously talented, bright person.’’
“We here in state government are really fortunate to have him, especially with some of the reforms going on now in the court system,’’ DeLeo added. “Tom is a lawyer; he was a public official. He can understand the budgetary aspects, the political aspects, and the legal aspects of some of the changes that Judge Ireland has proposed.’’
DeLeo also noted that Ambrosino “is known far beyond the boundaries of Revere. He was very active with the [Massachusetts] Mayors Association. He was one of the first big supporters of the municipal health care law’’ adopted last year.
Mayor Robert J. Dolan of Melrose believes the SJC made a good choice.
“He’s very intelligent but very centered and calm, all solid traits,’’ Dolan said, adding: “I always thought he’d make a great judge. He’s so judicial and balanced. Even in debates among fellow mayors, he was always kind of the voice of reason.’’
Ambrosino said he applied for the job after seeing an ad for it last fall.
“I was interested when I left City Hall in being in charge of a public agency, and this is a very prestigious public entity, so that interested me,’’ he said.
The shift from being the highest elected official in a city to an appointed manager of a court will be a significant one, Ambrosino said, but he welcomes it.
“I think it will be a challenge, which is kind of what I was looking for,’’ he said, adding, “I think I have a good skill set to be successful in this job.’’
Ambrosino, the son of retired Revere police lieutenant Frederick Ambrosino and Margaret Ambrosino, is a 1979 graduate of Revere High School and a 1983 graduate of Boston University. He received his law degree from Harvard in 1986.
Prior to becoming mayor, Ambrosino served on the School Committee from 1990 to 1996 and on the City Council from 1996 to 2000.
He decided against seeking another mayoral term last year because “I felt I had accomplished virtually all the things I had come into office to do. And I was a bit worn down by the job by the time I left, so it was both personally and professionally the right time for a change,’’ said Ambrosino, a divorced father of one daughter.
Ambrosino said he takes particular satisfaction in the four new schools built during his mayoral tenure - a fifth project is under design - and the academic progress the schools made in those years.
He also takes pride at the “progress we’ve made on developing the beachfront land adjacent to Wonderland station,’’ noting that the developer, Eurovest, this year is set to begin its mixed use project there, and that related public infrastructure work - including a garage, a pedestrian bridge, and a public plaza - is underway.
“And I’m generally proud of the way I left the city financially,’’ Ambrosino said, citing increases in the city’s bond rating.
What he will miss about the job are “the people at City Hall,’’ Ambrosino said. “I went to work there for 12 years so I certainly will miss the camaraderie that existed there.’’
What will he not miss? “Some of the general negativity that surrounds elected office, which tends to drag you down a bit emotionally.’’
But Ambrosino said he leaves open the possibility of a future bid for office.
“At least for the next three years I’m committed to this job,’’ he said of the SJC post. “But I’m only 50, so I’m not ruling it out.’’