The Successor to North Carolina Auditor Beth Wood Is Ex-County Commission Head Jessica Holmes

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North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper on Thursday named a former Wake County commissioner and previous statewide candidate to serve out the remainder of State Auditor Beth Wood’s term in office after she resigns in two weeks.

Jessica Holmes, an attorney who works at the North Carolina Industrial Commission, was introduced by Cooper as Wood’s successor at an Executive Mansion news conference.

Wood announced three weeks ago that she would step down as auditor on Dec. 15 in the wake of charges this year related to her government-owned vehicle. The state constitution directs the governor to appoint someone to complete Wood’s four-year term through the end of 2024.

Cooper cited Holmes for her wealth of experience — including serving as chair of the Wake County commission as it carried out a $1.5 billion local annual budget — as evidence she would succeed in the role.

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The auditor’s office scrutinizes state and local government spending, evaluates the efficiency of state programs and takes on special projects initiated by the General Assembly.

“Jessica understands how government can be a force for good, but that the details matter, and it’s important that we do things the right way,” Cooper said. “I’m confident that thanks to her intelligence, integrity and experience, she will make major contributions to the success of our state.”

Holmes, a Democrat like Cooper and Wood, lost in the 2020 general election for state labor commissioner to Republican Josh Dobson. She said Thursday that she would file candidacy papers next week to run for a full term as auditor next November.

“I will ensure that every taxpayer dollar gets to the people and the causes that we all care about,” said Holmes, a Pender County native who has a degree from the University of North Carolina School of Law. ”My administration will focus on accountability, eliminating wasteful spending and ensuring that all money allocated goes where it’s supposed to go. “

Several others from both parties have announced they are running for auditor. Primaries are set for March 5.

Holmes said it’s her understanding that she’ll be the first African American woman in state history to serve on the Council of State, which is composed of the governor, attorney general and eight other statewide elected executive branch officials.

“That said, I’m here today not because I’m Black or not because I’m a woman, but because I’m the person to do the job, and my credentials back that up,” she said. Holmes said she hopes that by serving as auditor that women and girls can envision serving in such a position as well.

Wood, who was first elected auditor in 2008, was indicted Nov. 7 on two misdemeanors accusing her of driving her assigned state-owned vehicle for personal business, including hair appointments and travel to shopping centers and spas. Wood has said she reimbursed the state for the additional miles she drove on the vehicle for personal activities.

Wood’s indictment followed an eight-month investigation by state agents that grew after she was cited in December 2022 for leaving the scene of a crash when she drove her state-owned vehicle into a parked car. Wood pleaded guilty in March to misdemeanor hit-and-run and apologized.

Wood said in June that she would seek reelection, but a week before the latest indictment she announced that she wouldn’t. That decision became public two days after the indictment.

Holmes said Thursday that she will not accept a state-owned vehicle as auditor.

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