State auditor: Former FBI agent challenges incumbent Beth Wood

The incumbent

A practicing certified public accountant with 28 years experience, Beth Wood, a Democrat, is the first woman to serve as state auditor. She was first elected to the post in 2009.

The challenger

A political novice, Republican Chuck Stuber resigned from his role as chief investigator for the the N.C. State Board of Elections to run for office. He worked for the FBI from 1985 to 2014.

About the office

The Office of the State Auditor tries to ensure public money is properly accounted for, reported and managed. The agency, which tries to prevent fraud and abuse, has broad powers to examine all books, records, files, papers, documents, and financial affairs of every state agency.

Why this race matters

State audits and investigations can save taxpayers money. The agency, for example, released findings in Septembers that found a contract physician for the North Carolina prison system falsified work time records that resulted in him being paid about $567,000 more than he should have in a nearly three-year period.

About the candidates

Wood has long argued that since she came to office, the agency has identified hundreds of millions of dollars in wasteful spending, caused at least in part, by poor contract writing and monitoring. She has said her efforts improved practices and saved taxpayer money. As an FBI special agent, Stuber says he helped lead corruption investigations against high-profile public officials, including former state lawmaker Jim Black, former Gov. Mike Easley and former U.S. Senator and presidential candidate John Edwards.

Where the candidates stand

This race could become a referendum on voters’ desire for change versus experience. Wood touts her eight-year track record in office and her ability work with Democrats and Republicans. Stuber has never held political office, which he says he considers a positive. He promises to bring a fresh perspective and new ideas for preventing fraud and waste.

Beth Wood

Age: 62.

Education: Bachelor’s in accounting, East Carolina University.

Professional experience: Previously worked for the agency and in the N.C. Department of State Treasurer; a cost accountant for Rayovac Corp.; a certified public accountant and the chief financial officer for a furniture company.

Political resume: Two terms as state auditor.

Family: Married, with no children.

Website: www.bethwoodcampaign.com.

Chuck Stuber

Age: 56.

Education: Bachelor’s in accounting, N.C. State University. Juris Doctor from the UNC-Chapel Hill.

Professional experience: Special agent for the FBI from 1985 to 2014. Later, he worked as the chief investigator for the North Carolina State Board of Elections.

Political resume: First run for public office.

Family: Married, one adult daughter and a late son.

Website: www.ChuckStuber.com.