Scott was born in 1938 in Galax, Va. He was first elected to public office in 1971, as a Democrat, representing the Providence District on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.
Among his accomplishments on the board: creation of the county’s Healthcare Advisory Board, the Human Rights Commission, and the School Age Child Care program. He chaired the Fairfax County Affordable Housing Advisory Committee. Scott left the board in 1986 to become vice president of community affairs for Inova Health System.
In his first election to represent the 53rd district in the Virginia House of Delegates, in 1991, Scott won in a recount by one vote, earning the nickname “Landslide Jim.”
During his 22 years in the House, Scott promoted legislation in support of anti-poverty programs, women’s rights, affordable housing, the “motor voter” law that allows people to register to vote at DMVs, and creation of the Virginia secretary of technology position. He is survived by his wife, Nancy, two daughters, and a granddaughter.