Councilwoman Tess Neff Announces Candidacy For Lakewood Judge

Councilwoman Tess Neff is a candidate for Judge of the Lakewood Municipal Court.

It is with great enthusiasm that I announce my candidacy for Judge of the Lakewood Municipal Court. Lakewood has been my home for over 32 years, and it is where my husband Rich and I raised our three children. I am deeply invested in our great community. Over the years, I have engaged in several civic opportunities such as the Lakewood Preschool PTA, serving on both the Lakewood YMCA Board and Beck Center for the Arts Community Engagement Committee and most recently, proudly serving on Lakewood City Council representing Ward 1.

My extensive public service makes me uniquely qualified to serve as the Lakewood Judge. As a magistrate for 10 years in the Lakewood Municipal Court and 12 years in the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Juvenile Division Court I have made many difficult and important judicial decisions on criminal and civil cases that directly impact individuals’ lives. Like a judge, a magistrate must apply the law, consider community safety and victims' rights, all while ensuring equal and fair treatment to the individuals appearing in court.

In addition to my magistrate experience, I understand the operations of running a large court. This is essential in a single judge court like Lakewood. In September 2015, I was unanimously appointed by the six judges of the Juvenile Court to serve as the Court Administrator and since have held that position. I believe the appointment is reflective of my strong work ethic, integrity, reputation for treating individuals with respect and dignity, and my ability to solve complex issues. Some of my current responsibilities include overseeing court operations, a budget exceeding $50 million, and managing approximately 550 employees. I will bring all these critical skills and essential experience to the Lakewood Court if elected to the position on November 9, 2021.

In November 2019, I was honored when the residents of Ward 1 elected me to serve and represent them on Lakewood City Council. My experience on city council has allowed me to more fully understand the needs and struggles of our community. Raised in a low-income family, I have experienced some of the challenges our own residents face. I overcame those struggles by working hard and was the first in my family to go to college, and upon graduation became a police officer for three years in Houston, Texas.

Serving the residents of Lakewood is a privilege and one that I would be honored to continue doing for many more years. It is a commitment I take very seriously because I care about our community. The Lakewood Judge seat is being vacated at the end of 2021. This has presented an opportunity to continue my public service as the leader of the Lakewood Court. The position requires an individual not only with robust skills and experience, but someone with a demonstrated judicial disposition. I pride myself on treating all people with respect, applying the law equally, and ensuring everyone has a voice. My well-rounded legal career as a practicing attorney, police officer, magistrate, court administrator and councilwoman, all required skills that will be directly applicable if I am elected the first woman judge in Lakewood.

I look forward to the opportunity to serve the community in a judicial capacity.

Tess Neff

I am a 30-year Lakewood resident. My husband Rich and I raised our children here and we both have worked in the community. I love Lakewood and its uniqueness.

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Volume 17, Issue 3, Posted 11:15 AM, 02.03.2021