When he made a surprise announcement last night (Wednesday, March 27) that he would not seek reelection this November to the Virginia House of Delegates, Washington and Lee alumnus Lacey Putney, '50, '57 Law, provided perspective on his career in one sentence.
He wrote in an e-mail: "When first elected in 1961, I had no plans to seek a second term."
But he did seek a second term, then a third, and a fourth, and on and on. An independent from Virginia's 19th District, Lacey has served 52 years, longer than any other legislator in the commonwealth's history. Unsurprisingly, the 84-year-old made it plain that he will continue to serve his constituents for the next nine months.
His final day on the House floor will probably be April 3, during a one-day session when the General Assembly considers gubernatorial amendments and vetoes. Since he is chair of the powerful Appropriations Committee, which creates the state's budget and establishes fiscal policy, he'll continue to be busy through December.
Lacey suffered a minor stroke in January and missed a few days of the 2013 legislative session, but he recovered and returned to work. He has also undergone treatment for throat cancer.
According to an article in the Lynchburg News and Advance, Lacey has indicated he is most proud of a 2008 higher-education bond package that incorporated accountability measures in the distribution of funds. He also was a major supporter of the Virginia Horse Center just outside Lexington.
In January 2012, his colleagues in the House of Delegates honored him at the start of his 51st year. A special guest on that day was his fellow W&L alumnus, former U.S. Senator John W. Warner '49. The two were friends during their undergraduate years. As Lacey told the gathering that day, "The only mistake that I know (John Warner) ever made was that he should have gone to law school at Washington and Lee, instead of U.Va."