Incumbent auditor faces Wake school board member
Democratic incumbent Beth Wood plays up her credentials as a CPA in her race against Republican Debra Goldman, a Wake County school board member.Posted — Updated
Democrat Beth Wood is a Certified Public Accountant and long-time government auditor. She says that experience is critical in making sure her staff follows the rules and requirements that attach to various types of investigations and audits.
"I don't know how you can oversee a staff and make sure you're in compliance with all those standards if you don't know what those standards are," Wood said, taking a not-so-subtle swipe at Debra Goldman, her Republican opponent.
Goldman is a Wake County school board member who says in an online campaign video, "I've been hailed by the news media as the watchdog for Wake County policy and finance." It's unclear who might have bestowed that moniker.
It's unclear how that news may be affecting the race because there is very little public polling available in the campaign. However, Republicans in the state legislature have been complementary of Wood's work in the past, and she got a shoutout from the GOP candidate for governor this week.
"I'm very concerned about some of the things I'm reading," Pat McCrory, the Republican candidate for governor, said when asked about Goldman during a debate Wednesday night. He expressed concern for Goldman's family and said it was too soon to pass judgment.
"I will compliment the current auditor at the same time," McCrory said of Wood. "I think she's done a good job. She at least had the courage to stand up to the Perdue administration on some broken government issues that someone needed to stand up to. And frankly, she was the only member of the Council of State who did stand up to the broken government of both the Easley and Perdue administrations."
Wood became auditor four years ago and was not auditor at the same time as Mike Easley was governor, although her first audits during her tenure looked at spending during the time he held that office.
Wood said she has already been rooting out waste, fraud and abuse. She says her agency has had its biggest impact over the past four years by exposing poorly written state contracts.
"We have encountered several contracts where the they are not in the best interest of the state of North Carolina," Wood said. "The state spends $3 billion a year in service contracts."
In one recent round of audits, for example, Wood's department questioned whether companies hired by the state to monitor Medicaid spending were actually saving taxpayers any money.
Wood said that if she is elected for another term, the Department of Health and Human Services would continue to be a major focus for her department.
As for McCrory's nod during the debate, Wood said she's happy her work has been noticed.
"I like to think I've always been able to work with both sides of the aisle," she said, noting her agency has the power to uncover problems but it's up to others to fix them. "If the governor and the General Assembly don't pick up my findings and do something with them, then the state will continue to run as it always has."