"It is my hope that we can continue doing what we do so well -- make folks want to come to Aiken," Pearce said in his acceptance speech to city council.
Pearce was appointed by a unanimous council vote Monday. Pearce's wife, Cindy, family and city employees filled council chambers to standing room only to congratulate the longtime city employee.
Pearce, who has been assistant city manager since 2008, served as the city's solicitor and staff attorney for 10 years.
City council member Don Wells said it was easy to think Pearce was right for the role, but after sifting through 48 applications, the council knew he was the best man.
"During that time it showed me over and over again your ability to lead," said Wells.
Pearce will replace Roger LeDuc, who will retire in January.
Their close-knit relationship was evident from a slip by Mayor Fred Cavanaugh when he said LeDuc's name instead of Pearce's when asking for a motion for approval.
"I know working with Roger, he'll be able to move right into that job," Cavanaugh said afterward.
Pearce said he was humbled by the appointment and continuing to be part of the team "because no one person makes the city of Aiken."
"I want to make us all proud of this community because there's none other like it," he said.
Pearce's new role will also aid in continuity among the city's projects, including the city's strategic plan update, called Aiken Tomorrow, which he coordinated.
He will begin his new role on Jan. 29. Pearce's annual salary includes $120,000 and a monthly car allowance of $600, Cavanaugh said. LeDuc's final listed salary was $146,120 plus the monthly car allowance, according to the 2010-11 budget.