Rappahannock County administrator abruptly resigns

Debbie Keyser spent only one year as the county’s chief executive

Rappahannock County Administrator Debbie A. Keyser, right, at meeting with members of the Board of Supervisors this afternoon (Friday, June 23). By John McCaslin

The Rappahannock County Board of Supervisors today [Friday, June 23] “accepted, with regret,” the resignation of County Administrator Debbie Keyser.  

The abrupt resignation of Keyser was accepted during a special “emergency meeting” of the BOS held in the Kramer Building in the town of Washington, during which a resolution was passed to release the administrator from her current employment contracts “under certain terms and conditions.”

No official reason was provided by Keyser for her resignation, but her short tenure as the county’s chief executive was rocky. Her job performance fell under repeated criticism by one member of the BOS in particular, Ron Frazier, the longest serving supervisor representing the Jackson District surrounding Amissville.

That said, Supervisor John Lesinski acknowledged earlier this year that it was the BOS that set Keyser up for “failure” by putting too many responsibilities on her plate — administrative duties coupled with zoning  — that no one person could be expected to handle.

So the BOS in recent months budgeted for the creation of a full-time zoning administrator position, and just over one week ago David Dameron, who for the past nine years held the same post in Powhatan County west of Richmond, filled the post.

It was made clear in today’s meeting that Keyser will continue to serve as the county administrator until July 16, unless an earlier date is agreed to, and she will assist in the recruitment and training of her replacement.

The  board also took action today to form a search committee to identify an interim county administrator, while simultaneously launching efforts to identify a full time replacement for Keyser.

Any new administrator, whether interim or permanent, will have to be approved by a vote of the BOS at a “public meeting” that would be scheduled for later this summer.

“We greatly appreciate the hard word and dedication that Debbie gave to Rappahannock County government and we are sorry that she  has decided to leave,” BOS Chairman Roger Welch said in a statement issued this afternoon. “We wish her nothing but success going forward and are pleased that she will remain a resident of the county.”

Keyser officially became administrator on May 1, 2016, replacing John McCarthy, who retired after nearly three decades in the county’s top post. Keyser had worked under McCarthy for one year as deputy county administrator.

The Rappahannock News will have expanded coverage of Keyser’s resignation in the print edition of the newspaper on June 29.

About John McCaslin 449 Articles
John McCaslin is the editor of the Rappahannock News. Email him at editor@rappnews.com.


  1. Mike,
    Can you provide some rationale for the ‘sickness’ you describe? Or explain how and why Ms. Keyser was one of the ‘best’ employees? Do you know she is leaving for ‘no reason?’ I suspect there are reasons aplenty, which are likely between her and the BOS. I agree the BOS is on the hook for this, and perhaps they made a poor choice to begin with.

  2. This is a sign of just how sick our county government is………one of the best county employees is leaving abruptly for no apparent reason. Sounds like a sick county government that needs to think about cleaning house. And not the underling employees…..the BoS needs to take a hard look at themselves and realize that an organization reflects its leadership, or lack thereof.

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