Lakewood City Council, Ward 1
Northeast Ohio, Local
Tess Neff has dedicated her professional career to public service. She served as a magistrate in the Lakewood Municipal court for 10 years, served 3 and a half years at the Court Administrator for the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court, and served as a police officer after college. A longtime Lakewood resident, Tess has learned first-hand the power of listening to citizens she serves and the importance of making educational decisions that are fair and just.
In 2020 Tess will begin her work as a Lakewood City Council Member, Ward 1.Facebook
Meet the Candidate
Can you tell our members a little bit about your journey to filing as a candidate?
I navigated several career paths before I decided to be a candidate. I faced many adversities as a child growing up often serving as the caregiver for my younger six siblings. I overcame those challenges by focusing on work. I started my first job at the age of twelve washing dishes in a restaurant where my mother was a waitress. I am the first in my family to attend college and I later went to law school. My career began in public service as a police officer. It is very gratifying for me to help those less fortunate and generally help others. My lengthy public service career has provided me unique opportunities to be in the position to assist people and grant opportunities to others. After graduating from law school and serving in the capacity as magistrate for several courts, and now a court administrator, my life and work experiences have prepared me well for public office. I have learned that making important decisions impact people’s lives and their community’s. Decisions must be made in a thoughtful, collaborative and inclusive manner. I running for public office because I want to utilize my experiences to give back to the community that has been so good to me and my family. I believe I will add value to the council seat I am seeking to fill.
Tell our members about a friend or family member who inspired you to become a leader.
I admired my mother for her strong work ethic. She often worked two jobs to try and meet the needs of our family. I learned from her that investing the time to perform well, will lead to better opportunities. My mother did not necessarily inspire me to be a leader; she inspired me to be confident in my endeavors to seek higher goals for myself. For me that meant getting an education. This was a very ambitious goal at that time in my life due to my family’s circumstances. My entire professional legal career is sprinkled with leadership roles. I credit this to the value I placed on working hard, respecting the individuals I encountered, and listening to others ideas and input.
Some of you are military veterans, some small business owners, some professionals, some mothers and grandmothers, some homemakers. How did one of these experiences shape who you are as a person and leader?
My career and life experiences have made a profound impact on the person I have grown to be. I appreciate my life experiences, albeit they were difficult at times. Facing negative experiences and tragedy at an early age taught me to be resilient and focus forward to overcome the obstacles. My career opportunities have required me to work collectively with others and reach decisions that are in the best interest of the people I am entrusted to serve. Combining my work history with my life history has taught me that a good person and a good leader is one who considers others input, one who accepts responsibility, and one who maintains integrity and compassion. All my experiences made me realize the value of treating people with respect and dignity. It is my practice to treat all people fairly and equally and those qualities have had a positive impact on my career as a person and a leader.
The Matriots PAC has a goal to see 50% of all elected offices in Ohio held by women by 2028. What is your vision for Ohio in 2028?
My vision for the Lakewood community in 2028 is to see the seven city council seats be occupied by at least four women. Currently there is one woman on city council. Another goal is to elect a woman to the Lakewood Municipal Court judge seat. Since the court was established in 1928 there has never been a woman elected to fulfill the judgeship..
Tip O’Neill famously said that “all politics is local.” What are the top-two issues your community or our state face today?
One important issue my community faces is the 100-year old infrastructure. In particular, as it relates to the sewer system. A second issue that is critical to the city’s strong core is to maintain its robust public services, strong public safety, keep roads and walkways in good repair, and sustain the housing stock. Both issues require smart financial planning and forecasting.
Tell us something personal about yourself.
I had just graduated from college when I attended police officer training at the sheriff’s academy in Houston, Texas. We were required to perform physical and academic trainings. I was not the fastest runner but I finished first in my class for the sit ups test, breaking the academy record. It sounds silly but it was fun to beat out all the men. I still love exercising to this day.