In the past, if you wanted good odds on the outcome of a race, you could put some money on Democrat Hamilton County Auditor Dusty Rhodes. Rhodes has held his office since 1991 and has had few problems getting re-elected as the county’s financial watchdog. This time around, though, he faces a somewhat serious challenger — a 29-year-old Republican whippersnapper from Anderson Township named Mike Mezher. Mezher, who is an attorney, has raised some cash for the race and says he has some new ideas about how the office should be run. These include linking the county’s property appraisal website to the sheriff’s sex offender registry and streamlining the process by which people get dog tags for their pets.
Mezher is hitting Rhodes, who is 74, mostly on the fact the incumbent is drawing a pension from the county while still working and drawing a salary. That’s called double dipping. It’s isn’t illegal, but Rhodes himself has come out against it in the past. That does raise our eyebrows a bit. Rhodes says he’s exceeded the number of years for public service the pension system can credit him for and would therefore be paying into the system without getting anything back if he declined the payments. He says he donates most of the money to charities.
Double dipping aside, it’s hard to see the logic in losing 23 years of experience for easier dog tags and another place online to look up sex offenders. Rhodes has presided over big changes in the auditor’s office, including county property records going online and a number of other large undertakings. If the worst thing an opponent can throw at him is that he’s collecting the pension he’s earned, well, we can live with that.