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Whats on the desks of Ohios top officials hint at their personalities

(February 15, 2019) — Whether it’s a black hole of useless papers or a vision from Marie Kondo’s Netflix show “Tidying Up,” your desk says something about you.

So, what do Ohio’s executive officials’ desks say about them?

Gov. Mike DeWine:

Family Man and Baseball Fan

Three prominent themes dominate DeWine’s office on the 30th floor of the Riffe Center: family, public service and baseball. Family photos of his wife, Fran, all eight kids and 23 grandchildren cover his workspace. (Absent, as of Monday, was any photo of his 24th grandchild, born less than a month ago.) A collage of frameless photos spreads the length of his desk, and his conference table is inlaid with even more pictures.

Opposite the conference table are built-in cabinets filled with additional framed photos, memorabilia from minor-league baseball’s Asheville Tourists in North Carolina, which his family owns, and a bowl of buckeyes — the poisonous nuts, not the edible kind. His office was clear of clutter; only an iPad and folded newspaper sat on his desk.

A nomadic worker, DeWine splits time among his Cedarville home, the Governor’s Residence in Bexley and the ceremonial office in the Statehouse in addition to the Riffe Center office. It’s in the morning, however, that DeWine says he’s most productive.

“I like to get up. I like to eat. I like to get going,” he said. “Once you hit the office, you get into the daily meeting after meeting after meeting. You go from issue to issue to issue, so you don’t really have time during the day to think.”

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted:

The Mobile Techie

“I’m not wed to any office,” Husted said. “My office is wherever me and my technology are.”

As for his physical Riffe Center office near DeWine’s, it’s decorated with family portraits, NCAA Division III national football championship trophies from his days as a Dayton Flyer, public service awards, ceremonial gavels, photos of him with fish he caught, a Keurig coffee maker and an assortment of hazelnut creamers.

His staff described him as structured; Husted said he’s “disciplined” and “regimented.” He said he strives to achieve a balance among his three loves — work, family and fitness — by prioritizing his time. His office echoes this: clean, no-nonsense, organized.

Attorney General David Yost:

The Sentimentalist

In Yost’s Rhodes Tower office, everything has meaning. His desk, one of two, is surrounded by posters of Abraham Lincoln, the U.S. Constitution and the Magna Carta. A computer, laptop, desk phone and bumper sticker, plus a coaster from the inauguration of the late Gov. George V. Voinovich, sit on Yost’s desk, which belonged to his mentor, former Columbus Mayor Dana “Buck” Rinehart. (Yost had staff positions with both of the Republican executives.)

But Yost doesn’t spend much time at that desk. He’s either working at the 19th-century standing desk that a friend restored and adjusted for his height, or in a small sitting area with a couch and chairs, or in the adjacent conference room.

What you won’t find in Yost’s office, however, is paper — he hates paper. Everything is digital, including Yost’s calendar, his “template for life.”

Auditor Keith Faber:

The Space Saver

Faber is all about efficiency. A few loose papers sit on his desk in the KeyBank Building office; others are filed in inboxes and outboxes. There’s an arrangement of photos on the corner of his L-shaped desk, next to an assortment of office supplies — highlighters, pens, paper clips, a stapler, an early-2000s calculator — and a bowl of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

Faber always eats lunch at his desk. It’s part of his workplace mentality: When he’s in the office, he explained, he’s there to get the work done.

“I tend to be fairly anal. … Do one thing, finish it, move on to something else,” he said.

And although mementos in Faber’s office are sparse — just framed photos, a decorative plate from his home county, Mercer, a small bust of former President Ronald Reagan, gavels, awards and a flag from his tenure as state Senate president — they are all curated to represent faith, family and freedom, he said.

Secretary of State Frank LaRose:

The Memorabiliac LaRose is the knickknack king. His desk in the Continental Plaza is relatively conservative, adorned with a few family photos, loose files and a desk phone. The rest of his office, however, is a hobbyist’s delight.

To the left is a hutch filled with items from his service in the Army. Beside that is a cabinet stocked with trinkets, including a “I’m Just a Bill” figurine from “Schoolhouse Rock!”; the University of Akron’s mascot, Zippy; and model trucks. On the opposite wall is a miniature shopping cart filled with rubber-band bracelets, plus a bulletin board of commemorative lapel pins.

As for his work philosophy, LaRose follows the “clean-desk model.” He keeps a tidy workspace and doesn’t leave his office until he clears the day’s work. To stay focused, LaRose tunes into live air traffic control communications or classical music radio — or Lionel Richie.

Treasurer Robert Sprague:

The Clean-Cut Business Crew

“Clean and business-like” is how Sprague described his Rhodes Tower office. The space is minimalist, with nods to his tenure in the legislature, Findlay upbringing and North Carolina education. These take a backseat to photos of his family, which are scattered throughout.

Other than an empty business-card holder, a paperweight and loose files, Sprague’s desk is clear. He’s old-school about work; he writes in No. 2 wooden pencils, “the kind that leave a dent in your hand,” he said.

Sprague’s Findlay office, however, is an homage to his family lineage, he said, and features a World War I-era bayonet, his uncle’s work hat and other family relics.

“That history means a lot,” he said. “It’s one of the reasons I was interested in serving.”