Sun. Dec 4th, 2022

Over decades of public service, Hamilton County’s Auditor has been called everything from the “Dust Buster” to a “Republican in sheep’s clothing.”Dusty Rhodes grins about that and grinds on with his job. But Friday, he announced he would not seek re-election.There are elements within his own party who are gleeful about it. Rhodes does not shy away from the controversies he’s been in over his political label.”I was a real Democrat when they asked me to run for this office,” Rhodes said Friday in an interview.He still feels aligned with the party which he believes generally speaks on behalf of those who feel voiceless and overlooked.He parts ways with what he called “the radical element of the party.” He has no patience for those who call for defunding the police.Rhodes, a pro-life Democrat, said “the party has moved away in some respects from me.”W. Emerson “Dusty” Rhodes, son of a Syracuse milkman, got his first taste of politics at age eight when his mother took him to a whistle stop rally to see then-President Harry Truman.To this day he’s retained the taste.”What you see is what you get,” he said as a self-description.It’s the kind of plain talk that defined Truman himself.The county’s longest-serving auditor told us, “I think it’s time to move on. I’m looking forward to the next adventure.”After eight terms across 30 years, Rhodes declared, “I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished but it’s time for somebody else to step up.”He has been a political lightning rod at times. His re-election billboards didn’t have to say much while speaking volumes at the same time.They normally read “Dusty Rhodes” with the words “Common Sense” right below his name.Post-Dusty, he would like to see “someone who maintains the independence of the office and someone who keeps politics out of the operation.”He described what he defeated decades ago as a one-party controlled, good ‘ol boys environment.Once in office, Rhodes told the staff he inherited he wasn’t interested in knowing their politics. He just wanted them to do their job.He took out ads in the Cincinnati Herald to help diversify his staff. In a public statement about his decision, Rhodes wrote: ” I am proudest of reducing the staff of the Auditor’s office – through attrition – from over 200 when I was elected in 1990 to about 80 today; the technological modernization which includes having one of the first public property websites; the County’s first-ever Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) which led to many years of awards for excellence in financial reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA); and returning almost $50 million in unspent funds to the local governments, school districts and taxing entities in the county.”Rhodes told us he regrets not being able to achieve state legislature support for conducting internal audits of county government and testing fuel quality.Oldtimers know what many young people might not realize. Before government and politics, Dusty Rhodes had a whole other gig.The youthful Dusty was behind the mic at WSAI radio which became a legendary powerhouse Top 40 station back in the sixties.Rhodes brought the Beatles to Cincinnati Gardens for a concert.A framed photo of the seated Fab Four from August 27, 1964 hangs in his office.He was twenty-four at the time.Even back then, his trademark pipe was prominent. He said the event established WSAI as “the” rock and roll station and that the Beatles were a breeze.”Easy to deal with, no insane demands or anything else. They were having the time of their life and enjoying it. And we were, too.”He seemed to be enjoying today’s walk down memory lane. His term expires in March of 2023.After that, Rhodes intends to devote more time to archiving his radio shows, do a little writing and reading, maybe take in a Yankees game from time to time.”Nothing special,” he concluded. “Just having fun.”The way he put it — like he did back in his radio days — sounded pretty special.

Over decades of public service, Hamilton County’s Auditor has been called everything from the “Dust Buster” to a “Republican in sheep’s clothing.”

Dusty Rhodes grins about that and grinds on with his job. But Friday, he announced he would not seek re-election.

There are elements within his own party who are gleeful about it. Rhodes does not shy away from the controversies he’s been in over his political label.

“I was a real Democrat when they asked me to run for this office,” Rhodes said Friday in an interview.

He still feels aligned with the party which he believes generally speaks on behalf of those who feel voiceless and overlooked.

He parts ways with what he called “the radical element of the party.” He has no patience for those who call for defunding the police.

Rhodes, a pro-life Democrat, said “the party has moved away in some respects from me.”

W. Emerson “Dusty” Rhodes, son of a Syracuse milkman, got his first taste of politics at age eight when his mother took him to a whistle stop rally to see then-President Harry Truman.

To this day he’s retained the taste.

“What you see is what you get,” he said as a self-description.

It’s the kind of plain talk that defined Truman himself.

The county’s longest-serving auditor told us, “I think it’s time to move on. I’m looking forward to the next adventure.”

After eight terms across 30 years, Rhodes declared, “I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished but it’s time for somebody else to step up.”

He has been a political lightning rod at times. His re-election billboards didn’t have to say much while speaking volumes at the same time.

They normally read “Dusty Rhodes” with the words “Common Sense” right below his name.
Post-Dusty, he would like to see “someone who maintains the independence of the office and someone who keeps politics out of the operation.”

He described what he defeated decades ago as a one-party controlled, good ‘ol boys environment.

Once in office, Rhodes told the staff he inherited he wasn’t interested in knowing their politics. He just wanted them to do their job.

He took out ads in the Cincinnati Herald to help diversify his staff.

In a public statement about his decision, Rhodes wrote: ” I am proudest of reducing the staff of the Auditor’s office – through attrition – from over 200 when I was elected in 1990 to about 80 today; the technological modernization which includes having one of the first public property websites; the County’s first-ever Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) which led to many years of awards for excellence in financial reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA); and returning almost $50 million in unspent funds to the local governments, school districts and taxing entities in the county.”

Rhodes told us he regrets not being able to achieve state legislature support for conducting internal audits of county government and testing fuel quality.

Oldtimers know what many young people might not realize.

Before government and politics, Dusty Rhodes had a whole other gig.
The youthful Dusty was behind the mic at WSAI radio which became a legendary powerhouse Top 40 station back in the sixties.
Rhodes brought the Beatles to Cincinnati Gardens for a concert.
A framed photo of the seated Fab Four from August 27, 1964 hangs in his office.
He was twenty-four at the time.

Even back then, his trademark pipe was prominent. He said the event established WSAI as “the” rock and roll station and that the Beatles were a breeze.

“Easy to deal with, no insane demands or anything else. They were having the time of their life and enjoying it. And we were, too.”

He seemed to be enjoying today’s walk down memory lane. His term expires in March of 2023.

After that, Rhodes intends to devote more time to archiving his radio shows, do a little writing and reading, maybe take in a Yankees game from time to time.

“Nothing special,” he concluded. “Just having fun.”

The way he put it — like he did back in his radio days — sounded pretty special.

By senior