A new state auditor has been appointed to take over from Beth Wood, who chose against seeking re-election in 2024.
Thursday, Governor Roy Cooper appointed Jessica Holmes, a former Pender County resident, who will take over on Dec. 15. She will be the first Black woman to serve as state auditor.
“I look forward to taking on this important role for the coming year,” Holmes said in a press release. “I will be filing for election to this seat next week.”
Cooper called North Carolina “fortunate” to have Holmes, who is a “dedicated, enthusiastic public servant.”
“I am confident that she will lead the department with determination and hard work,” he said.
Cooper also thanked Wood for her years of service. The 69-year-old has served as auditor since 2009.
Last December, controversy arose as Wood was involved in a hit-and-run in downtown Raleigh while driving a state-issued car. She was charged for leaving the scene, property damage and an unsafe movement and suspended from using the state vehicle in January.
It sparked the State Bureau of Investigation to look into Wood’s use of the state-owned vehicle for private purposes. It found in 2021 and 2022, she used it to travel to and from personal appointments. Wood was charged Nov. 7 with a misdemeanor and announced she would not seek re-election.
An attorney, Holmes grew up near Burgaw and attended UNC Chapel Hill to receive a bachelor’s degree; she also holds a juris doctor from the UNC School of Law. She specialized in public schools and education, workers’ compensation and labor and employment law. Formerly, Holmes worked as the attorney for the NC Association of Educators and was a board member and former chair of the North Carolina Foundation for Public School Children.
She also served two terms as a Wake County commissioner, elected in 2014 as the youngest to hold the seat. Holmes was commission chair twice and helped create the county’s first affordable housing and infant mortality task forces.
Holmes now works as Deputy Industrial Commissioner to ensure workers’ compensation claims are treated fairly in accordance with state law.
“I will bring my legal expertise to the office by asking tough questions and ensuring agencies are spending state money legally, effectively and efficiently,” she said in the release.
The North Carolina Auditor evaluates finances for state government agencies, including universities, colleges and judiciary arms. Holmes will also be an ex-officio member on the Local Government Commission, which oversees financial management for North Carolina towns, cities and counties.
State treasurer Dale Folwell — the chair of the LGC who is also seeking a gubernatorial run in 2024 — sent regards to Holmes on her new position and Wood on her exit. He called Wood a “valuable colleague and public servant” who kept the “best interests of the taxpayers in her heart and mind.”
“I wish to congratulate newly appointed State Auditor Jessica Holmes and welcome her to the Council of State,” he said in a statement. “The State Auditor and State Treasurer historically have worked productively on the Council of State, the Local Government Commission and through other activities and programs to determine what’s right, get it right, and keep it right for our taxpayers, communities and future. I look forward to working with State Auditor Holmes and continuing the tradition of cooperation for the betterment of North Carolina and its people. I want to thank outgoing State Auditor Beth Wood for her many years of dedicated public service and wish her well in all her future endeavors.”
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