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AAC F A M I L Y & F R I E N D S


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Left: Little River County native Jeff Sikes served as AAC’s legislative director for seven years. Right: Sikes was honored for his service to AAC at a July 18 open house. He is pictured along with retired AAC Governmental Affairs Director Wes Fowler and AAC Executive Director Chris Villines.


Sikes retires from legislative director post


He earned the respect of elected officials with his knowledge of the issues ByChristy L. Smith


AAC Communications Coordinator


“Jeff has been a part of the AAC family for many years, and we will miss his presence and influence on our team,” said Chris Villines, AAC executive director. “He has been an advocate for county officials and has helped AAC improve county government through countless pieces of legislation, educational projects and presentations and legislative advocacy. We wish him the very best in his next journey.” Sikes began working for AAC in 1990 as an administrative assistant and later transitioned into the role of staff attorney. He worked for AAC for nine years, then left to become a private lawyer. While in private practice, Sikes continued to work with AAC as a contract lobbyist. But, he said in a 2008 interview, his private-sector experi- ence provided him an up-close and real-world view of the state’s court system, which is so integral to county government functions. “It brought a lot of that stuff in from the abstract,” he said. “Tere’s a world of difference in how it’s done in the law and how it’s done in the real world.” In July 2007 Sikes returned to work for AAC as its legislative direc- tor and served as the staff contact for the Arkansas County Clerks’ Association, the Arkansas Circuit Clerks’ Association and the Arkan-


T COUNTY LINES, SUMMER 2014


he Association of Arkansas Counties honored retiring Legislative Director Jeff Sikes at a July 18 open house that was attended by approximately 150 county and state officials.


sas County Treasurers’ Association. He also was a valuable advisor to AAC’s legislative committee, said Debbie Wise, Randolph County circuit clerk and chairman of the legislative committee. “Jeff Sikes taught me most everything I know about the legislative


process. I would go with him and follow him around the Capitol. Jeff was very respected. I could tell that they trusted him,” she said. “He encouraged me. I wouldn’t know what I know today without him. He had a great deal of knowledge, and he was very well respected and loved by the people who were up there on that hill.” Sikes is a lifelong native Arkansan who hails from Little River


County. Te grandson of former Little River County Judge Ray Sikes, he has been in and around Arkansas county government most of his life. In fact, Judge Sikes was one of the founding members of AAC, along with former political legends Marion Crank, Shug Banks and Jim Pledger. Jeanne Hunt, executive assistant to AAC’s director, said she and Jeff


struck an easy friendship when he started working at AAC. She said his transition into county advocacy was seamless. “He has always had the best ‘homespun’ stories from back in Little


River County, and he has certainly entertained us many a lunch hour,” she said. “If someone needed a helping hand, Jeff was always the first to offer. After coming to AAC, Jeff quickly became the ‘go-to’ person for questions from our officials.” Tough Sikes and his wife, Linda, call Little Rock home, they have purchased an RV and plan to spend their retirement traveling.


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