WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) — First News is Your Local Election Headquarters. A seat on the bench at Warren Municipal Court is up for grabs, and two women are running for the job.

Both Traci Timko and Patty Leopardi Knepp want to be the next Warren Municipal Court Judge. Both women are running in the Democratic Primary and have decades of legal experience.

Timko has served as a prosecutor in the City for 22 years.

“I’ve dealt with thousands of cases a year for 22 years on the front lines of the opiate epidemic,” Timko said. “Mental health crisis, gun violence surging and I’m familiar with many of the repeat offenders that come through our court.”

Knepp has spent the majority of her 30-year career at her family’s private practice.

“I’ve sat on all sides of the aisles of cases not only in criminal and traffic but quite a bit of civil,” Knepp said. “You know when you look at a municipal court it’s where we go to to dissolve our disputes. Just what I do every day in my practice.”

The two women each have visions for the future of the court. Timko wants to stop the revolving door of repeat offenders, do community outreach such as expungement clinics, and increase the use of community service as a sentence for low-level non-violent offenders.

“If we impose community service, we do have these services to oversee it they provide a benefit to the community in addition to having a deterrent effect hopefully from committing further crimes,” Timko said.

Knepp says she wants to preserve the integrity of the court, and explore expanding court hours into the evening to better serve people whose work schedules and other commitments make it difficult to get to court.

“So maybe the court starts early afternoon and extends into evening hours that could accommodate people’s schedules and make the judicial system much more accessible,” Knepp said.

Regardless who wins, the election could make history for Warren Municipal Court with voters electing the first woman to serve on the bench, so long as no one files to run as an Independent ahead of the primary.

“I know I can not only serve the community well, but serve each and every individual that comes before that court and give them the utmost attention every case deserves,” Knepp said.

“There’s this long-term experience that has taught me what it takes to do what we need to do and do it successfully,” Timko said.