Judge Rhonda Best sworn in as first countywide, elected female judge
Story and photos by Sheri Trusty, Seneca County Media Relations Coordinator
When Judge Rhonda Best was sworn in as Tiffin-Fostoria Municipal Court Judge on Dec. 28, she didn’t just reach a professional milestone. She also made history. Best is the first elected female judge in Tiffin, and she is the first countywide, elected female judge in Seneca County.
“It’s kind of shocking it didn’t happen sooner, but if anybody was going to be the first female judge, it makes sense that she would be the one,” said her son, Isaac Best, who attended the ceremony with his brother, Ammon. “I’m pretty proud of her.”
Judge Best was sworn in by Seneca County Juvenile and Probate Court Judge Jay Meyer, along with Seneca County Common Pleas Court Judge Steve Shuff and Seneca County Common Pleas Court Judge Damon Alt.
“It means so much to have all three of you here,” Judge Best said before turning to the crowd that packed her courtroom. “I don’t think you understand what it means to me to have all these smiling faces here.”
Judge Shuff called the historic event “exciting.”
“She’s the first countywide elected female judge. This shows we have a lot of women who qualify for positions like this,” he said. “This brings Seneca County into the 21st century.”
Judge Alt has known Judge Best for many years, giving him a unique perspective on her skills.
“She’s going to be a great judge. I’ve worked with her here for the last year, and she did a phenomenal job,” he said. “I’m very happy for her. It’s a good thing for Seneca County to have diversity on the bench.”
Seneca County Commissioners Bill Frankart and Tyler Shuff were among Best’s supporters at the ceremony.
“Fortitude and perseverance shined today in Seneca County as Rhonda Best was sworn in as the first woman judge,” Commissioner Frankart said.
Commissioner Shuff was also impressed with Best’s accomplishment.
“I was so very honored to be present at this historic event and be able to witness the swearing-in of Seneca County’s first elected female judge,” Shuff said. “I have total faith in her and am eager to work with her for the betterment of our community.”
Judge Best thanked her sons for their lifetime support of her efforts and her dreams. Due to their encouragement, she is now “looking forward to being a positive force in the judicial community.”
“They had to put up with a lot through their lives. I’m very happy they’re here,” she said. “People think they’re not supposed to make anything of their lives after they have kids, but anybody can be what I am today. My sons were an asset, a blessing – not a detriment.”
No one was prouder of Judge Best than her sons.
“She’s been a great role model, not just as a mom but also as a person,” Isaac said. “I think she’ll do a lot of good for the county.”
Ammon said he remembers tagging along with his mom to her law classes at the University of Toledo when he and Isaac were preschool age. On Dec. 28, he watched as she made history.
“She’s really happy about it,” Ammon said. “That she’s made it this far already only means there are more cool things to come.”