Cllr Alan McDowell said: “I was saddened by the death of a colleague and friend of over 30 years.
“Jim was previously our group leader on Ards Council, and led us through some difficult times and some happier occasions. He was twice Mayor and on both occasions was an excellent ambassador for the Council.
“He worked hard for his constituents for nearly 40 years with his main passions being agriculture and economic development. His achievements are too many to name, however he was very proud to have been one of the founding members of the Ards Business Centre which helped create 100s of jobs in the area. Ards Borough Council recognised his many achievements by giving him the freedom of the borough.
“Jim firmly believed in the principles of the Alliance Party and stood for the ideals of equality and community relations. When I joined the Council, he was a father figure to me as he helped and guided me through my first few years of political life. Personally, I will miss his advice, humour and kindness.
“I would like to pass on my condolences to his wife Jenny and the wider family circle during what must be a difficult time for them.”