José R. Rodríguez-Amorós
Hometown: San Juan, Puerto Rico
Role: Deputy clerk, Senate of Puerto Rico
Years of legislative service: 26
Best advice he’s ever received: “You should not wake up thinking that you have a job to do. Make your job your hobby and you will always enjoy it, because if you do not like what you do, you will not do it properly.”
Why did you choose to work at the legislature?
Since I was in high school, the Legislative Assembly’s work impressed me. With that in mind, I participated in several organizations that helped me develop leadership skills while learning more about the work done in the Assembly. For example, I participated in Model United Nations clubs, going to New York as a sophomore in high school. I also went to Washington, D.C., for the Presidential Classroom program and participated in the first Congreso de Líderes Juveniles de Puerto Rico, an event that presented high school students with the opportunity to meet with members of all three branches of government in Puerto Rico and to understand their responsibilities. That was in 1984. After my participation in the Congreso, I became part of its organizing committee as a volunteer for six years. After the 1992 elections, one of the newly elected members of the House of Representatives offered me a part-time job. I worked five hours a week while studying full time for my law degree. The rest is history.
What skill or talent are you most proud of?
As I gain more experience and knowledge of the chamber rules, I am able to teach and transmit the importance of following the rules during the legislative process to senators and staffers. That is something that I am proud to do as deputy clerk of the Senate.
Who or what inspires you?
The women in my family. My grandmother, a teacher and public servant, was the one who introduced me to parliamentary procedure. She had retired when I was a kid, but she kept active in several organizations as parliamentarian. She participated in seminars and conventions of parliamentarians, traveling all over the United States, and always brought some challenges for me to evaluate and solve using parliamentary procedure.
My mother, a librarian and a public servant, showed me how public service affected the lives of others. She dedicated herself to helping faculty and students at the second-biggest public university in Puerto Rico. She inspired me with the values of organization, promptness and accuracy.
What’s one thing you love about Puerto Rico?
I can say that I live where you vacation. Puerto Rico is Paradise. We have 365 beaches, one for every day of the year, including two that are located within walking distance of the Capitol.
However, I cannot forget to mention that our people, culture and food are our greatest assets.
And I have to mention the people who represent us well everywhere they shine: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Ricky Martin, Rita Moreno, Raúl Juliá and Ambassador Mari Carmen Aponte are examples of those who have left Puerto Rico to excel at what they do.
What are you currently reading/listening to/watching?
I have two books that I am reading right now: “Militant Puerto Ricans: Migrant, Armed Struggle & Political Prisoners,” by Michael González-Cruz, and “A Time for Mercy,” by John Grisham.
As an avid fan, during weekends I watch football, especially all the games of Real Madrid Football Club—the most important sport club in the world—and Formula One racing.
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.