AGAWAM — Stephen Buoniconti wasn’t seeking to switch things up when he received the call that ultimately led to him being named the next city solicitor of Springfield.

The Agawam town solicitor never said who called — that’s of a “private nature,” he said. But it started a conversation. That led to conversations with his family. That led to him accepting the job in Springfield, a city with more than five times Agawam’s population.

A “solicitor,” Buoniconti said, is a fancy word for a municipal lawyer. Solicitors work on a town or city’s legal issues, he said. They also make sure that a mayors’ policies, as well as the municipality’s decisions, stay compliant to the law.

The job is vast and complex, Buoniconti said. New issues crop up often, he said; solicitors not only need to know the law, but also know how to work quickly in order to defend their town or city.

“It’s a challenging job that stretches to your limits at some points, but that’s what I find very thrilling about it,” he said.

Before becoming Agawam’s solicitor, Buoniconti was the state representative for West Springfield from 2001 to 2005, then the state senator from 2005 to 2011. Buoniconti said the skillsets of both jobs complement each other. As a legislator, he had a team around him guiding him on his decisions; as a solicitor, he’s guiding others on their decisions.

“Now I enjoy being behind the scenes and giving counsel to mayors,” he said. “I really enjoy that more so now.”

Buoniconti started as Agawam’s associate solicitor in March 2016. He said then-Mayor Richard Cohen, whom he knew from working with him as a legislator, called him and alerted him to the opening. He became solicitor in 2018, after William Sapelli was elected.

As solicitor, Buoniconti has had a hand in projects such as the proposed new high school, converting the old Tuckahoe Turf Farm into Still Brook Park, and accepting parcels from the family trust of John C. Tate, which the town will convert into a park.

Asked what he’s most proud of, Buoniconti began praising other town officials. Sapelli and Johnson, he said, were “exceptional and dedicated to the community”; the City Council is “high quality”; and he was very proud to work with every department head.

“Everybody is working together in the town’s best interest and that, to me, was quite pure and I liked doing that,” he said.

Both the people and the small-town feel of Agawam are things he will miss about his current position, he said.

In Springfield, Buoniconti said he will do more of the same tasks he does in Agawam, although the size, scale and intensity of the issues will be different. For example, he’ll be in the middle of the city Police Department’s relationship with the federal Department of Justice, and will be working on issues raised by MGM Springfield. Nonetheless, he said he’s dealt with “big issues” as a legislator.

“I consider that an exciting career challenge to take on these issues,” he said.

He hopes he has benefited the Agawam community and wishes to do the same in Springfield.

“I hopefully have left the Agawam Law Department in a better position than when I first came in, and that will be a similar, simple goal for Springfield,” he said.

In a statement, Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno thanked the city’s current solicitor, John Payne, for his service, and said that talented and well-respected people have been in Law Department positions during his tenure in office.

“I have the utmost confidence in City Solicitor Stephen Buoniconti’s ability to lead our Law Department and continue the tremendous work of his predecessors,” he said. “His legal and public service background make him an ideal fit to serve as our city’s next solicitor and I am looking forward to working with him.”

Buoniconti lives in Agawam, but is working on moving to Springfield. In the meantime, his contract is still being negotiated, but he said that will be finished by the end of the month. He has not formally resigned yet and does not know when his final day in Agawam will be.