BY ANNE MICHAUD
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Tom Neyer Jr. shed his "appointed commissioner" status Tuesday, after easily defeating Marilyn Hyland in the Hamilton County commissioner race.
Also, Dusty Rhodes will return for a third term after beating Mary Anne Christie in the Hamilton County auditor's race.
In the final vote tally, Mr. Neyer won, 56 percent to 44 percent.
Mr. Rhodes had an edge of 68 percent to 31 percent.
Mr. Neyer, 32, said his first priority is to urge the community to unite behind vital goals -- a baseball stadium, better public transportation and creating jobs.
"The most important thing for this community is to come together," he said. "We have so many great opportunities, but we will miss them if we don't move forward together now.
"There's been a lot of confusion and a lot of angst around all aspects of the baseball issue, but we need to put that behind us, not only for baseball, but for things that are larger, not only in dollars but in their impact on people's lives."
He called for a stronger working relationship with the city of Cincinnati and surrounding governments, more arts funding, an expanded convention center and forward movement to improve transportation in the Interstate 71 corridor.
The county should continue its success moving people from welfare to work, he said.
Also, the county should lead the way to making Greater Cincinnati friendly to business, he said, "not just in western Hamilton County, where we have our largest opportunity, but all over this community."
Mr. Neyer, appointed to the commission in February 1997, is the first commissioner to run for office since the stadium spending, Bengals lease agreement and Reds ballfield site have become such hot-button issues for citizens.
Ms. Hyland, a political newcomer, framed her campaign around the sports issues -- going so far as to appear in a baseball uniform at many events and her TV commercials.
Mr. Neyer was the deciding vote in favor of a riverfront site for baseball.
Mr. Rhodes has a packed agenda for the next four years, as well. He said he will push for internal audit authority for county auditors around the state, which would require a change in state law.
The new power would give county auditors the ability -- and responsibility -- to investigate the finances of any county office. Auditors now process bills and may question spending, but they cannot conduct wide-ranging investigations. Cincinnati has an internal auditor.