This article and the accompanying image were originally published by The Daily Tar Heel at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and are republished here as part of the One Vote North Carolina student media collaboration. Copyright by The Daily Tar Heel.
The November election is coming up, so The Daily Tar Heel is breaking down every state and local office on the ballot, from governor to county commissioner. Here, we broke down who the candidates are for N.C. state auditor.
With the North Carolina general election just under two weeks away, voters across the state will have the opportunity to cast their ballot for state auditor.
The candidates this year are incumbent Beth Wood, a Democrat, and challenger Anthony Street, a Republican. Wood is vying for her fourth term as state auditor.
The state auditor is responsible for ensuring that taxpayer dollars are being reported correctly and spent efficiently.
The state auditor’s office has the power to audit state, county and municipal entities to find wrongful or inefficient use of tax dollars. The state auditor then reports these findings to the N.C. General Assembly and the governor.
Additionally, any private entity that receives state tax dollars can be audited by the state auditor’s office.
Wood has been in office since 2009. She previously worked in the state auditor’s office as well as the state treasurer's office.
Wood graduated from East Carolina University with a degree in accounting and is a certified public accountant.
Wood said taking politics out of the state auditor’s office is key to effective auditing.
“I’ve taken all of the politics out of the agency,” Wood said. “Every audit and every investigation we do has a deadline, and we measure our staff's work in accordance with those budgets and those deadlines.”
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During Wood’s time as state auditor, the office has uncovered multiple instances of tax money being misused or used inefficiently.
For example, Wood said she presented a June audit of North Carolina Virtual Public School to the General Assembly in June. The audit found that some courses offered by North Carolina Virtual Public Schools didn’t meet content and design standards.
Wood said she is focusing her efforts on the newly developed data analytics division within the state auditor’s department. She said the department is working with a data analytics firm to maximize the division.
“Anybody that’s trying to audit or do business without data analytics is gonna be lost,” Wood said. “...I have built an analytics division in my agency to identify where the most significant dollars are at risk for being wasted so that we can choose our audit topics faster, and be able to choose those audit topics that will yield findings.”
Street, a small-business owner, is also serving his second term as a member on the Brunswick County Soil and Water Board.
Street has a master's degree in public administration from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.
“Being a fiscal conservative, I’m concerned about saving money as much as possible, and also when money is spent investing it as wisely as possible,” Street said. “We owe it to the taxpayers to be able to explain to them how and where their tax dollars are spent.”
Street said he would like to continue looking into money spent on education, as he said it makes up a large percentage of North Carolina’s budget.
Street also said he would continue looking into the Department of Transportation, which was found in a July audit to have overspent $39 million on salary adjustments.
He said communication with North Carolina citizens is key to successful budget oversight.
“I want to definitely spend a lot of time working on the public relations of the auditor's office, connecting with the citizens on an individual basis,” Street said. “By educating the public on how and where their tax dollars are being spent… they can then apply pressure to their state representatives and senators.”
For more election coverage from across North Carolina, visit One Vote North Carolina, a collaborative of The Chronicle and six other student newspapers that aims to help college students across the state navigate the November election.