At the first Unicity elections held in December 2000, James was elected a ward councillor in the City of Cape Town. His success at the polls was mainly attributed to his civic involvement where he served on ratepayer’s associations, police forums and several other community boards. In addition to representing the same ward as councillor for his third term until 2014, James chaired several committees within the City of Cape Town council with the most noticeable as chairman of the council’s health portfolio and sub-council respectively. During this time, he was the driving force behind the formulation of the Air Pollution Control legislation for Cape Town - a first for South Africa. James was also tasked with establishing oversight structures to oversee municipal services and setting up business networks for improvement nodes.
James was also appointed to the City of Cape Town's portfolio committee for Tourism, Events and Marketing in 2011. James was nominated as candidate for the parliamentary elections held in May 2014 giving the Democratic Alliance a high profile local government candidate. He was duly elected as Member of Parliament and was appointed by the Parliamentary Leader to serve as Shadow Tourism Minister - a portfolio that has the ability to create vast economic opportunities accros the spectrum while at the same time positioning our country as a destination of choice for travel and trade.
Focusing on his work in Parliament, James tabled several motions and introduced proposals to support tourism advancement for example lobbying for the construction of dedicated cruise terminal infrastructure; regulations for the implementation of electronic visas as a means to streamline tourist facilitation to our country; the rationalization of international country offices to ensure efficacy and market share; and the introduction of domestic tourism strategies to deal with affordability and limited geographic spread. In addition to this position, he also recently contributed to the establishment of several new and exciting tourism routes, as well as facilitating workshops to help develop marketing strategies for several jurisdictions and small towns with the aim to rejuvenate some stagnant tourism products and infrastructure]
James is currently working on policies clarifying the important role of municipalities in tourism development. This will include aspects relating to the establishment of destination marketing organizations, functions of visitor information centers to promote towns and their unique offerings, programs aimed at product development and the revivement of stagnant tourism infrastructure and products, and holding cross cutting departments accountable to ensure safety, cleanliness and improved levels of service delivery to ensure that municipal jurisdictions remain attractive destinations for travel and trade. James has a close association with Lions International. He was awarded with the International Merit Award and Melvin Jones Fellow for his continued support to community upliftment projects. He was also bestowed with Aldermanship making him amongst the youngest to receive this life title.