Ohio House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) today announced her intention to step down from her caucus leadership position by the end of the year, capping a historic three-year tenure which saw unprecedented bipartisan success for Ohio Democrats and an increase in transparency of the legislative process for Ohio citizens.
Leader Sykes released the following statement:
“On day one, we set out to restore Ohio’s promise of better lives and brighter futures, and for the past three years, House Democrats have delivered major wins for working people and families. We’ve made government more responsive to the people and grown opportunity for all of us, not just those at the top. But we know there’s more work to do, more challenges to meet, and more injustices to address.
“I am confident our next Leader will step up and continue to meet these challenges, and I look forward to working with them to fight not only for the 4.5 million Ohioans our caucus represents, but for everyone in our state.
“I am humbled by the faith and trust my Democratic colleagues have put in me, and am honored to have served these past three years as Minority Leader of the Ohio House. Though I am stepping down as Minority Leader, I am not stepping away from service—far from it. I am considering any and all options to continue to serve my community, whether that’s in elected office or as a private citizen. I will share those decisions in the near future. Until then, I will continue to be the voice for the people of Ohio’s 34th district—the birthplace of champions.”
Rep. Sykes was elected Minority Leader in 2019, immediately delivering on long-held Democratic priorities to bring more transparency to the Statehouse by streaming all committee hearings.
In the two state budgets during her leadership, Leader Sykes and Democrats secured historic investments in public transit, wraparound social services at Ohio schools, and broadband internet connectivity for unserved households. Democrats also pushed for a landmark fair school funding formula and critical investments to protect the environment and improve water quality in Ohio communities. Additionally, House Dems secured a targeted tax cut for working people and middle class families and made critical investments in Ohio’s crumbling roads and bridges.
Under Sykes’s leadership, House Democrats championed pro-labor policies, enacting wage and hour protections, increasing the minimum wage for direct service employees and raising the starting salary for Ohio teachers. Democrats also sponsored legislation to create the TechCred job training program, cut red tape for workers applying for certificates and credentials, and to support foster care and maternal health in Ohio.
Under Leader Sykes, House Democrats worked alongside President Biden to deliver billions of dollars to Ohio, from expanding access to childcare and supporting Ohioans who lost their jobs through no fault of their own to strengthening small businesses and rebuilding the state’s crumbling infrastructure.
And in the face of unprecedented crises facing the state, Leader Sykes and House Democrats provided real leadership, responding to the Dayton shooting, coronavirus pandemic, economic uncertainty, and protests against systemic racism with real, meaningful plans to stabilize the economy, protect the health, safety and security of constituents, and move Ohio forward.
Leader Sykes intends to step down as Minority Leader at the end of December.