By Stefanie Jackson – A longtime Eastern Shore resident, Jacqueline “Jackie” Davis, became the mayor-elect of Cheriton in November after serving just one two-year term on the town council.
Cheriton Mayor Larry LeMond had decided not to seek re-election but ran for a seat on the town council, which he won, meaning he and Davis will switch roles starting Jan. 1, 2021.
The role reversal was unplanned. LeMond had told the town council he would not seek re-election, and Davis decided to run for mayor after she reflected and prayed about the opportunity.
“I thought, if this is where God intends me to be, I’ll be there,” she said. “I just want to give 110% of what I am.”
She was unaware initially of her opponent, Warren “Ski” Wisneski, Cheriton’s building and code enforcement officer.
But there was no rivalry between the two candidates, who have a “great relationship” and “support each other no matter what,” Davis said.
She won without campaigning and had no explanation why voters chose her, but she hoped her financial experience was a factor.
Davis has worked in finance for most of her career, beginning right after she graduated from high school. She was a member of Nandua High School’s first graduating class.
Davis had attended Accomack County Public Schools since her family moved to Quinby in 1976, when she was 10 years old. The family moved from Northern Virginia after her parents retired.
Her first job was at a local bank, and later she worked for the Northampton County Treasurer’s Office.
She left her finance career to raise three children and worked as a teacher’s aide at Broadwater Academy to coordinate her work schedule with her children’s school schedule.
After about 10 years, she went back to work for Northampton County and later obtained a position at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, where she has worked for the last three years in finance, payroll, and human resources.
Davis discovered Cheriton after her marriage of 20 years ended and her new life as a single mother necessitated her search for a safe, affordable place to live and raise her children.
“I just fell in love with Cheriton,” she said. Cheriton was an attractive choice because it was “a small town that had everything” within walking distance, minus the burden of paying both town and county taxes.
Cheriton requires each citizen to purchase a town decal for each vehicle owned, but there are no town real estate or personal property taxes.
That’s where Davis’ financial experience comes into play.
She is mindful of her responsibility to Cheriton citizens and works conscientiously to be a good steward of the town’s finances, always open to opportunities to maximize revenue and minimize spending.
Davis first considered running for town council after her kids had grown up and left for college.
She realized, “I actually have time that I can give back, and hopefully I can give something positive.”
Davis enjoys helping others, and in addition to her service on Cheriton’s town council, she has volunteered for organizations such as the local library and literacy council.
One of the town’s council’s accomplishments in 2020 that made Davis proud was keeping Cheriton safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cheriton purchased a germ-killing blue light and plexiglass barriers for the town office and increased sanitation measures, allowing the DMV Select office to continue operations, Davis said.
(DMV Select offices can issue vehicle titles, registrations, or license plates, and help customers register to vote.)
“We have a beautiful town,” said the mayor-elect. Her vision for Cheriton is to preserve and enhance the town’s character while welcoming new residents and businesses.
At least one new business may be coming to town, a restaurant near the intersection of North Bayside Road and Route 13, Davis said.
She would like to see Cheriton form its own business association.
Davis also supports efforts to enhance the small town’s appeal to walkers and bicyclists. She noted that a bike station recently was installed in front of the town hall, and she looks forward to Northampton County’s rails-to-trails project that is expected to extend the Southern Tip Bike and Hike Trail past the town.
Cheriton wants to revisit its comprehensive plan after the update of the Northampton County comprehensive plan is complete, so the town’s planning committee can get a better idea of the future that citizens want for their town, she added.
Davis is looking forward to working with the town council in 2021 and looking at all the options in every situation before ultimately making the decisions that are in the best interest of Cheriton’s citizens.
She pledged, “We’re going to do the best we can.”