Beth Wood is the incumbent State Auditor and is running for this Office for the fourth time. She’s also a three time Lillian’s List Featured Candidate. This race and this Office is critical because the North Carolina state government spends approximately $46 billion a year, of your hard-earned tax dollars to run our state government. The State Auditor is the only eyes and ears citizens have to oversee how their tax dollars are being spent. As a Certified Public Accountant with 27 years of audit experience, Beth’s top priority is to make sure that your tax dollars are spent efficiently and effectively.
Our Executive Director, Sarah Preston, had a chance to talk with Beth last week about the responsibility of serving as State Auditor during these trying times and her campaign to carry on in this Office. As Beth knows better than anyone, the vast majority of the State’s revenue comes from sales and State income tax. Beth wants everyone to understand that it is a lot of money and a big responsibility. She believes that it is important that only someone who possesses the competency skills, and qualifications be the person to sit in this seat to provide effective oversight in this Office. That’s why, once she wins, she’s going to work with state legislators to pass a law requiring that anyone who runs for State Auditor possesses, at a minimum, the same qualifications required to actually work in the State Auditor’s Office. That way, Beth hopes that the public can have confidence that the leader of the Office has the skills and credentials to lead an Office that is so critical to the citizens of North Carolina. Beth shared a lot more about the Office and what she is working on, as well as her campaign in her interview with Sarah.
SP: Why did you decide to run for office? Was there anything that specifically inspired you to run?
Beth: I’ve run for this office four times now and I think what makes me want to run goes back to the very beginning when I jumped in to the race the first time. I worked in the Auditor’s office and I was watching how many billions of hard-earned tax dollars are being spent in Raleigh and I thought, we could be doing such a better job of spending this money.
The job of the Auditor will be even more critical after this pandemic because our sales and use taxes, our income tax, the revenues are all going down. We are going to have fewer dollars with even more needs, so we need be efficient. Every dollar we spend matters. This is a limited pot of money. If it is spent incorrectly, it won’t be there for the people who really need it. The State Auditor needs make sure that the dollars are there and spent wisely.
SP: What do you think is the most important thing that the government can do to help people now and into the future?
Beth: The most important thing we can do right now is to make sure that those who have been affected, practically overnight, by this pandemic have the basics they need, food, the ability to pay the bills, and stay in their homes. We need to help people not give up.
Moving forward, again, we need to make sure that every dollar given to this State by its taxpayers is put to the use it was intended for and not wasted. This pandemic makes this more critical, because we will be getting such an influx of federal money but in the end, we need to make sure that the moneys we need are there to fund public schools, provide healthcare for those who can’t afford it, food for those in need and support economic development.
SP: What do you hope to accomplish for women and families in North Carolina in 2020 if reelected?
Beth: It all goes back to those tax dollars that every family earns and then pays in to Raleigh. I want the state government to use them as well as they should. I want to make sure we spend those dollars effectively.
SP: What are you working on right now in the Auditor’s office?
Beth: We are working on several audits that are focused on effective and efficient use of tax dollars. For example, we are looking at the Department of Transportation. The Department ran out of dollars to finish infrastructure projects on roads and bridges and nobody seems to know why. We are looking at why and will explain how this happened without anyone asking any questions.
We are also looking at virtual education and looking at the quality of online classes. This is essential now as we look at how many classes have had to go online. I think people will be surprised at how unprepared we are for things like this pandemic. As the federal government starts sending money in to the state to address the pandemic, we are looking at how prepared the state agencies are to take the money, turn it around, and send it back out the door to the right people. It can become a difficult process to make sure that absolutely the right people are getting support and it can become slow. The agencies need to be timely, but not wasteful so we need to be careful. These are all critical for North Carolina and the Auditor’s office is involved in all of them.
SP: What are the benefits of being a woman while campaigning and serving in office?
Beth: I just think that I approach my job and my responsibility a little differently than male candidates do. I am more interested in getting problems resolved from a perspective of what is best for North Carolina. Some men are more interested in just being right. I am a strong personality and have such a passion for what I do, I don’t get knocked off my guard or intimidated easily.
SP: Why are you a champion of reproductive freedom and gender equity?
Beth: I believe that God gave us free will and I believe that He gave me the free will to make my own decisions for myself about my body and my life. That is a God-given right that only He can take away.
SP: What would you recommend people listen to, read or watch to bring them some joy while social distancing?
Beth: Turn on some music and dance. I love to dance! I will play music and dance in the living room with my husband. If you just put on music that makes you want to dance, a lot of the bad stuff falls away, at least for a little while.