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Cooper picks former Wake County commissioner as new state auditor

Former Wake County Commissioner Jessica Holmes has been appointed the new state auditor.
Courtesy of UNC School of Law
Former Wake County Commissioner Jessica Holmes has been appointed the new state auditor.

Gov. Roy Cooper is appointing former Wake County Commission Chairwoman Jessica Holmes as the new state auditor. Holmes will become the first Black woman to serve in a Council of State position.

Holmes served on the Wake County commission from 2014 to 2020. She ran unsuccessfully for labor commissioner in 2020 and has served as a deputy commissioner at the N.C. Industrial Commission since 2021.

"Jessica will bring years of government and legal experience to the State Auditor's office, as well as a deep commitment to public service," Cooper said. "I wanted someone to stand before the voters and be accountable for their critical work. I'm confident that I found that person."

Longtime State Auditor Beth Wood plans to resign next month after she was charged with improperly using a state-owned vehicle. Wood also pleaded guilty to hit-and-run charges earlier this year.

Holmes said Thursday that she will "not be accepting or receiving a state vehicle."

"As state auditor, I will ensure that every taxpayer dollar gets to the people and the causes that we all care about," Holmes said at a news conference at the governor's mansion. "My administration will focus on accountability, eliminating wasteful spending and ensuring that all money allocated goes where it's supposed to go."

Asked about the historic nature of her appointment, she said: "I'm here today not because I'm Black and not because I'm a woman, but because I'm the person to do the job and my credentials back that up. That said, I learned this when I was a county commissioner: I had this quote, 'it's hard to be what you can't see.' ... And by me serving in the seat, hopefully, it will allow others to see themselves in it as well."

Wood had encouraged Cooper to pick her top deputy to finish her term, but Cooper announced that he's picking Holmes instead. She plans to run for a full term next year, where she'll face fellow Democrat Luis Toledo in the primary. Six Republicans are also running for the position.

Colin Campbell covers politics for WUNC as the station's capitol bureau chief.