Holmes breaks ground in appointment as state auditor

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(The Center Square) – Jessica Holmes will serve the remainder of the term being vacated by state Auditor Beth Wood, Gov. Roy Cooper said Thursday.

Holmes begins Dec. 15, which is Woods’ last day.

“I will bring my legal expertise to the office by asking tough questions and ensuring agencies are spending state money legally, effectively and efficiently,” Holmes said in a release. “I look forward to taking on this important role for the coming year. I will be filing for election to this seat next week.”

She will break ground as the first Black woman to serve on the 10-member Council of State. Holmes, a Democrat, failed to get there on the ballot in 2020, losing the Commissioner of Labor race to Republican Josh Dobson 50.8%-49.2% out of more than 5.3 million votes cast.

Holmes, a lawyer by trade, works as deputy industrial commissioner, Cooper’s release said. She broke ground previously as the youngest Wake County commissioner, and also as its chairwoman. Holmes served two terms on the panel, and two terms as chairwoman.

Cooper praised Holmes’ legal work specializing in public schools and education, workers’ compensation, labor, and employment law. She has represented the North Carolina Association of Educators as its lawyer, and has been chairwoman of the North Carolina Foundation for Public School Children.

Woods, a certified public accountant, announced her resignation earlier in Nov. 9. In March she 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 2020.

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 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 vehicle, when its front-right quarter came to rest on the front-left quarter of a parked four-door sedan. There were no injuries.

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