by Dick Hall-Sizemore
A legend in Virginia government passed away this past Sunday. Stuart Connock dominated state government finance in the 1970s and 1980s. Before that, he was the one that Governor Mills Godwin tapped to implement the new sales tax. His influence was felt long even long after he retired.
Stuart (everyone who worked with him felt they could call him by his first name) was quiet and self-effacing. He was not well-known to the general public, but he once was viewed as more influential than the governor. He was liked, respected, and trusted by all legislators, whatever the party.
Stuart’s influence and power came about in the old-fashioned way — his knowledge of the budget and state government in general and taxation and revenues in particular. His understanding of the budget was unmatched. This gave him a leg up on those, to use Jeff Shapiro’s phrase, “part-time legislators often incurious about budget arcana.”
Above all, Stuart was a nice person. He always took time to listen to others and to patiently explain complex budget issues to neophytes, as I can personally attest.
To some on this blog, Stuart may be regarded as part of the “plantation elite.” He was courteous, knowledgeable, nonpartisan, cared about good government, and cared about Virginia. The Commonwealth could do a lot worse if it had more Stuart Connocks around.
Jeff Shapiro’s column on Stuart Connock’s legacy is here.