John T. Vines
Hometown: Vines was raised on a rice and soybean farm in Grubbs, Ark., then attended the University of Arkansas for his bachelor’s and law degrees. Since graduation, he’s called Hot Springs, Ark., home for nearly 22 years.
Role: Chief legal counsel, Arkansas House of Representatives
Years of legislative service: Vines represented District 25 (parts of Hot Spring and Garland counties) in the House from 2011 to 2016; he transitioned to his current role in 2017.
Best advice he’s ever received: “In school, sports and life, my dad used to tell me, ‘Son, if you always have to tell me how good you are, you’re probably not that good. Show me.’ ” Also: “Tough times never last, tough people do.”
Why did you choose to work at the legislature?
From my time in the House, I thoroughly enjoyed the legislative process. After serving in an elected role, it was natural to seize an opportunity to work for the improvement of our state on a full-time basis. There’s nothing more important or better for our citizens than to help ease their burden in life just a bit when we can.
What skill or talent are you most proud of?
Unfortunately, I have no worthwhile skills or talents to mention. I’ve just been extremely lucky in life, and at so many junctures just happened to be in the right place at the right time. I so wish that I could play an instrument, speak a foreign language, or even have completed a triathlon, but I simply am not that talented.
Who or what inspires you?
Every day that I am in this position, I am reminded of our unique role and ability in state government to change lives for the better. Daily, we have the opportunity to help, assist, aid and simply improve the everyday lives of our citizens. Be it issues with education, transportation, highways, health care or whatever sectors of government, we have a tremendous duty and responsibility to help those that we serve.
What’s one thing you love about your state?
One of the best things about Arkansas is its unique difference, both regionally and culturally. From the eastern delta and cropland to the Ozarks to the Piney Woods in the southern half of the state, Arkansas is a rare place with so many vastly different cultures and experiences. With its smaller population and geographic size, it is not uncommon for everyone to know everyone, literally and actually.
What are you currently reading/listening to/watching?
I’m terrible as a reader as I tend to read to two to three books at a time for no particular reason or urgency. John Grisham, David McCullough and most nonfiction works are my favorites.
Living with teenagers, I lost control of any radio or podcast years ago. I’m usually in the background of my daughters’ social media postings as we travel to various school and other extracurricular events.
Due to our family’s hectic life and schedules, my viewership is limited to games involving the Arkansas Razorbacks and the St. Louis Cardinals. Kevin Costner is fantastic in “Yellowstone,” and rarely turn off an episode of “The Office” or “Seinfeld.”
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
For its “Staff Snapshots” series, State Legislatures News is asking legislative staff about their role in the legislature. If you’d like to suggest a staffer for this series, please email Holly South at NCSL.