In Memory of Jackie Pearce
In 1973, Jacqueline Howard “Jackie” Pearce became the first woman elected to Sanford City Council, defeating Tommy Davenport 1,471 votes to 1,068. Pearce replaced incumbent Nelson Childress in representing Ward 1.
Pearce began her career with the Sanford Tobacco Co. She then was employed by Central Carolina Technical Institute (later called CCCC) while she attended the school at night to earn an A.A. Degree in business administration with an option in accounting.
Serving as a City council member (then called alderman) was Pearce’s first elected position, though she had worked on political campaigns before seeking office. Involvement at the local level was a core tenet of Pearce's beliefs. "The city government is the one closest to us, and the one we can do something about," she told The Sanford Herald in 1973.
About her own campaign, Pearce said “I make no promises except that I will look carefully at all issues and try to make as sensible a decision as possible that will be to the interest of the majority of our citizens.” When asked whether she would capitalize on being a woman, she responded, “I am simply seeking a seat on the board, and I plan to work hard for it."
Pearce served on the board from 1973 to 1977 and from 1979 to 1983. She was voted mayor pro tem in 1981.
Pearce remained employed at CCCC until she moved to Salisbury and was hired by Rowan County Community College. While in Salisbury, she was an active member at the First Presbyterian Church and continued her interest in civic and political organizations.
Pearce eventually returned to Sanford. She died peacefully at age 91 on August 3, 2019.