Born and raised in Akron, House Democratic Leader Emilia Strong Sykes was elected to represent her hometown (OH-34) in November 2014. With a strong sense of responsibility for the well-being of those she serves, Sykes has tackled the challenges of her district with unmatched passion and dedication. Rep. Sykes has served in Democratic leadership for four years, holding the positions of Assistant Whip, Minority Whip and Minority Leader.
As a representative, Sykes has pushed an aggressive job creation plan, fighting to keep local jobs for local workers and expand opportunities for middle and working class families in Akron. Under her leadership, Democrats secured historic investments to improve public transit systems across the state, rebuild Ohio’s roads and bridges, and expand affordable broadband access to unserved households.
Leader Sykes and Democrats worked together to pass a targeted tax cut for working people and middle class families, increase wages for teachers for direct care service providers, and continue to fight for a higher minimum wage and safer working conditions for all Ohio workers.
Rep. Sykes understands the importance of a quality education and job training for people to get ahead. She has worked collaboratively to expand social services and fairly fund Ohio’s public schools.
Rep. Sykes has also worked to improve public health, increase access to care, and combat Ohio’s high infant mortality rate. Her passion for social justice extends to issues such as the freedom to vote, criminal justice reform, an end to domestic violence, and rebuilding Ohio’s social safety nets for struggling Ohioans, especially the state’s broken unemployment system. Sykes' work on domestic violence issues has earned bipartisan praise and resulted in her legislation to protect the safety and security of people in dating relationships, House Bill 1, becoming the priority piece of legislation for the 132nd General Assembly.
Sykes previously served as Administrative Staff Advisor at the Summit County Fiscal Office, where she worked to create a county land bank to repurpose vacant and abandoned properties, and as Law Clerk to the Chief Judge of U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Northern District of Georgia.
Sykes attended Kent State University, graduating with high honors with a B.A. in Psychology. She later attended the University of Florida, where she earned a Juris Doctor with a Certificate in Family Law and a Masters of Public Health.
Rep. Sykes has received numerous awards for her advocacy, including the University of Florida Law Young Alumni award, the Legislator of the Year from the Ohio Minority Business Enterprise, the Champion for Children award from Summit Children’s Services, and 30 for the Future award from the Greater Akron Chamber of Commerce.