Legislative candidate brings well-rounded background

The Dispatch –

As a student at Central Davidson High School, Sharon Phillips Pearce knew she wanted to be a nurse when she grew up. She did just that. Now a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist, Pearce has her sights set a bit higher: North Carolina’s 81st House of Representatives seat.

Pearce, a Republican, brings a strong medical background to her campaign and hopes her credentials in the medical field will speak for themselves as she advocates for more affordable health care in the state.

“Health care is a huge issue for a lot of people,” Pearce said, “but the people making those decisions aren’t in the system. We need people making decisions about heath care who know about the system itself.”

While studying as a nursing student in the early 1980s, Pearce was introduced to the idea of administering anesthesia as a nurse. She admits she didn’t even know the position existed at the time. After observing the duties of a CRNA during a tonsillectomy she underwent in nursing school, she knew that’s exactly what she wanted to do.

During her medical career, Pearce has held multiple leadership positions such as being named the 67th president of the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists in 2013, an organization with a multimillion-dollar annual budget. She has also worked as a member of the North Carolina Diabetes Advisory Council since 2002.

But seemingly most important for Pearce’s campaign is her experience as the lead lobbyist on S.L. 2002-103, the Care for School Children with Diabetes Act, which passed in the N.C. General Assembly in 2002.

Pearce, whose daughter, Danielle, was diagnosed with diabetes at age 5, constructed the bill that “requires the State Board of Education to adopt and disseminate guidelines for the development and implementation of individual diabetes care plans.”

“North Carolina was the fourth state in the nation to pass this groundbreaking legislation,” Pearce said. “I still consult with states attempting to pass such legislation.”

Pearce identified financing as the key issue she will face during her campaign. Although she believes she can come up with the necessary funding, she has yet to decide on a permanent solution for maintaining a full-time income if elected.

“People don’t realize it always costs you to serve,” she said. “There’s a reason why we are represented by a lot of gray-haired white men. They’ve already made their living.”

The 81st District seat, which covers the western part of Davidson County, including Lexington, will be vacated by three-term Rep. Rayne Brown, who will make good on a 2008 campaign promise to hold the seat for just six years if elected. Brown, who was elected in 2010, believes strongly in a citizen’s legislature in which the seat is not held for an extended period of time by any one legislator.

Pearce joins Salisbury fire captain Tyler Forrest and Davidson County commissioner Larry Potts as the first three candidates to express interest in the seat after Brown’s July announcement she will indeed serve only three terms.

Official filing for legislative office starts in February with the general election following in November of next year. Legislators may move the primary from May to March to match the time for the state’s presidential primary.

Mat Batts can be reached at 249-3981, ext. 227, or at mat.batts@the-dispatch.com. Follow Mat on Twitter: @LexDispatchMB