The City of Angels Camp’s budget was $125,000 per year when Jackie Heintz became the first woman to be appointed as city administrator in 1968, compared to about $12 million per year today.
Heintz will turn 90 on Sunday and plans to celebrate by throwing a private Mardi Gras-themed party with family and friends on Saturday.
“I feel good and plan to keep on going,” she said. “My aunts and uncles lived into their 90s, so I have good genes.”
The trailblazing soon-to-be nonagenarian still lives in Angels Camp in a home built by her late husband, Jerry, five years after they moved to the city in 1961.
Heintz’s education up to that point mostly consisted of IBM’s private secretarial school, where she attended while working for the company in San Jose.
She was asked to apply for the Angels Camp city administrator job after the death of Joe Vetter, who had held the position for many years.
“Out of eight people who put in for it, I was selected,” she said.
Like her predecessor, Heintz served concurrently as the city clerk and ran unopposed for 22 years before her retirement from both positions in 1990.
Heintz said one of her first actions as city administrator was to create a bookkeeping system for each department because all of the accounting was previously kept on a check register that was presented to the city council once a year.
“I told the council you need to have better control, so I started giving a report every three months,” she said.
A lot of the growth in the city’s budget happened during Heintz’ 22-year tenure.
Heintz followed through with work Vetter had started to put in a sewer system for the city. She also helped facilitate the purchase of the city’s water system from Pacific Gas and Electric Co., which the company tried to buy back years later.
The annexation of Altaville into the incorporated city also occurred under Heintz’s leadership.
“There were a lot of little cities that were going bankrupt at the time, so my theme was if we don’t have it, don’t spend it,” she said.
Heintz also established the first planning commission for the city in 1972, wrote the first safety manual used by both the city and Calaveras County in 1979, became the first woman to be president of the county’s Chamber of Commerce in 1980, and was one of six founding board members of the Mark Twain Hospital Foundation.
In 2017, Heintz released her memoir “Crackin Pine Nuts in Historic Angels Camp After the Gold Rush,” through a self-publishing company.
“Jim Valenti, a former councilman and mayor, had a tree with pine nuts and would put them on everyone’s desk, so we would crack pine nuts during the city council meeting,” Heintz said.
Heintz said the council also had a tradition of going to a bar across the street for drinks after every meeting. It caused somewhat of a stir in town at the time when she would join them because she was the only woman in the group.
“There were probably some ladies in town who didn’t approve, but I still got re-elected every year,” she said with a laugh.
Contact Alex MacLean at email@example.com or (209) 588-4530.