During the height of the Great Depression, the General Assembly passed a bill to allow counties to hire what is called in current days a county administrator. Although initially, Chesterfield opted out, leaving the supervisors to deal with the everyday details of running the county’s government, such as contracts and hiring employees.
As the Depression slogged on, Herbert Hoover left office and FDR took control then solved the problem of the Depression. As the Great Depression waned, Chesterfield voters were faced with a referendum and in 1937 voted 1109 to 54 to adopt what was called the Hobson enabling act allowing for a county executive secretary, now called county administrator. On July 1, 1938 that office was filled for the first time by William S. Coburn of Chester. Coburn was followed by W.H. Caldwell of Colonial Heights until four years later on June 1, 1946 M.H. “Mel” Burnett was hired by the Board of Supervisors. Burnett is still remembered by many Chesterfieldians and served for at least 30 years until his retirement. He was followed by a number of short term county administrators until Lane Ramsey took the reins of the management side of Chesterfield’s government. Ramsey learned the workings of the job at the knee of Burnett before being hired. Our current county administrator, James J. L. Stegmaier also learned his job at the knee of his predecessor.