Lacey began his political career as a member of the Pratt City Board of Aldermen. After serving several terms, he was elected Mayor of that city and served two terms before the city was merged into Birmingham in 1910. After the merger briefly represented Ward 11 on the Birmingham Board of Aldermen before the new Birmingham City Commission was instituted later the same year.
Lacey resided at 1553 Graymont Avenue. He suffered a stroke in March 1959 and died a few days later while still hospitalized. He was survived by three children, three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. He was buried at Elmwood Cemetery.
- "Dies in hospital-Joseph E. Lacey, 88, ex-mayor of Pratt City." (March 28, 1959) The Birmingham News
- Joseph Lacey at Findagrave.com