John T. "J. T." Scates was mayor of Vestavia Hills from 1972 to 1976. Mayor Scates was married to Suzanne Rouveyrol Scates and retired from U.S. Steel. He built Vestavia Hills' first post office just off of U. S. Highway 31 where it is still located today.
Scates entered local politics when he ran for and was elected to the Vestavia Hills City Council in 1964, defeating an incumbent councilman. He was re-elected to the city council in 1968. Scates was elected to become Vestavia Hills' third mayor in August 1972, defeating fellow councilman Jack Grace. Though Grace led in the general election Scates won the run-off.
During Scates term as mayor Vestavia Hills built a new elementary school on property adjoining Wald Park. The city also began it's first EMS program. His tenure was not without contention. Some councilmen felt that their responsibilities were too time consuming. Against his wishes, the council hired a city manager to oversee certain administrative duties. This did not sit well with Scates, whose campaign slogan had been "Elect J.T. Scates - The Fulltime Mayor". Despite a town hall style meeting that brought out a large and vocal crowd which opposed the hiring of a city manager, the council voted 5-0 to proceed with the hiring. This would prove to be temporary. When the city manager resigned some years later he was never replaced.
Scates ran for re-election in the 1976 election, but was defeated in a run-off with Grace.