RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina State Auditor Beth Wood, who received unwanted attention earlier this year after a traffic-related court plea, announced on Wednesday that she won’t seek reelection in 2024 after all.
Wood, a Democrat who was first elected as auditor in 2008, revealed her decision publicly at the close of her testimony before an oversight committee at the Legislative Building, citing in part her age and “some circumstances that are in my life.” Wood told reporters after the meeting that she wanted to start a public speaking career and another term would delay that.
“I have loved this job and am proud of the work we have done to bring accountability to State Government,” Wood said in a separate written statement. “My heart is filled with gratitude to the voters who put their confidence in me for four terms. But I will be 70 in April and so it will be time to say farewell at the end of my current term.”
Wood had said in June that she would be seeking reelection. Three months earlier she pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor for leaving the scene of a December 2022 crash in which she drove her state-owned vehicle into a parked car. A judge sentenced her to pay fines and court costs.
No one was hurt in the accident, which occurred after Wood left a holiday party in downtown Raleigh. Her citation became public in January. Wood apologized, saying she had made a “grave mistake” and should have waited to let the accident play out.
Without specifically mentioning the crash in her statement Wednesday, Wood said: “I know that I have made mistakes along the way, but I have acknowledged them and have learned from them.”
A Craven County native, Wood is a certified public accountant who worked in the State Auditor’s Office for nearly 10 years before she defeated incumbent Auditor Les Merritt in the 2008 election.
For years Wood was among the Republicans’ favorite Democrats as her office issued audits critical of state government operations and looking at ways to halt fiscal waste. But she sometimes came to loggerheads with officials who were the subject of negative reports.
Wood cited successes Wednesday including audits that identified unemployment benefit checks totaling hundreds of millions of dollars that were sent late and that determined more than 20 physicians with revoked or suspended licenses were regularly treating Medicaid patients.
Wood told House members she still has plenty of work left: “We’ve got 14 months to kick some butt, so we will get it done in the next 14 months.”
Her announcement creates another open seat on the Council of State, which is composed of 10 statewide elected officials.
Six current council members — Gov. Roy Cooper and Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson among them — have said they are either not seeking reelection or running for a different office. Candidate filing begins in December, with primary elections to follow in March. Several Republicans previously announced that they were running for auditor.