Embattled state auditor stepping down

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(The Center Square) – Beth Wood, an embattled Democratic state auditor already sitting out North Carolina’s 2024 election cycle, will resign. Her last day is Dec. 15.

The Craven County native made the announcement in the hours before the holiday weekend began Thursday evening. Praised widely on both sides of the political aisle for the work of her office, the 69-year-old’s albatross has been a car crash last December in downtown Raleigh that resulted in a probe leading to a grand jury indictment this week on misdemeanor charges from the Wake County district attorney.

Published reports say a plea has been arranged allowing retainment of her pension for 30 years of state service. Woods’ last day will come exactly 53 weeks after the nighttime crash involving a state-issued, when its front-right quarter came to rest on the front left quarter of a parked four-door sedan. There were no injuries.

“I made this decision because we have such a great team doing incredibly important work and I don’t want to be a distraction,” Woods said in a written statement. “It has been an honor and privilege to work with such a talent staff and to serve the citizens of this great state.”

Woods’ timing allows Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper to name her replacement. Their party did not have another candidate expressly lined up when Woods on Nov. 1 said she would not seek reelection; Woods had said as recently as June she planned to seek another term.

Woods in March pleaded guilty to hit-and-run charges, a misdemeanor. The eight-month investigation revealed use of a state-owned vehicle for personal errands and appointments.

Woods worked in the auditor’s office for a decade before unseating incumbent Les Merritt in the 2008 election. She won her fourth term in 2024.

Candidate filing opens at noon Dec. 4 and runs through noon on Dec. 15. The Republican primary on March 5 is expected to include Dave Boliek, Jack Clark, Charles Dingee, Jim Kee and James Upchurch.

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