Local Commentary

Editorial: The Legacy of James M. Scott

In what was a week of tragic losses for the City of Falls Church. Former Virginia State Delegate James M. (Jim) Scott passed away last Saturday after a lengthy struggle with Alzheimer’s. Scott served for 22 years in the General Assembly from 1992 to 2014, representing the 53rd District that for the last 12 years included the City of Falls Church.

Other painful losses included the passing of Tim McKinney, husband of the City’s energetic community and Chamber of Commerce activist Tori McKinney and James Trollinger, a long-time and highly respected activist in the City’s Citizens for a Better City (CBC) and former candidate for City Council.

In a story reporting on an exclusive interview with Del. Scott upon his retirement from the House of Delegates in January 2014, we described Scott’s “lanky stature and deep voice creating a Lincoln-esque visage.” It was a very apt description.

We went on to write, “Scott’s staunch liberalism runs very deep, born of the civil rights struggles of the 1950s and 1960s, when he was at the University of North Carolina and a protege of the likes of its storied president Frank Porter Graham and firebrand progressive activist and future congressman Allard K. Lowenstein. It colored his particular passion for issues such as affordable housing, women’s rights issues and anti-poverty programs.”

Tributes to Scott by his successor in the House of Delegates Marcus Simon and U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly, also quoted elsewhere here, are also very apt. In short, Jim Scott was an extraordinary person, and as a result, also an extraordinary public servant.

He was a great friend of the News-Press, writing a regular column. His friendship was not to curry favor (when, in his opinion we endorsed the wrong candidate once or when we made an off-handed deprecating comment about people in his birthplace in southwest Virginia, he did not hesitate to roast us). But it was his effort to bring out the best through the challenges facing the local newspaper in his district.

In his last year in office, Scott single-handedly shepherded a House joint resolution in Richmond citing our editor and the News-Press for “advocating affordable housing, quality education, support for the disenfranchised, and human rights and equality…(being) one of the few general interest community newspapers in the nation to publish a weekly column dedicated to gay and lesbian justice issues.” He presented the framed resolution at the annual banquet of the Falls Church Chamber of Commerce and it hangs proudly in our office.

Our point is that everything he said about us also applied to him, and much more in spades.

A great fan of the Washington Nationals and all things University of North Carolina, he heralded the legacy of UNC basketball coach Dean Smith for his role in advancing the cause of civil rights that Scott emulated his entire life.