Emilia Strong Sykes[1][2] (born January 4, 1986) is an American politician representing the 34th district of the Ohio House of Representatives, which consists of portions of the Akron area. From 2019 until 2021, she also served as Minority Leader of that chamber.

She grew up in the Akron area and is the daughter of former state Representatives Vernon Sykes (now an Ohio state senator) and Barbara Sykes, who successively held the same seat from 1982 to 2014, meaning that the seat has been represented by a member of the Sykes family for over 39 years.[3][4]


Sykes holds a B.A. in psychology from Kent State University. She received a JD from the University of Florida Levin College of Law and a Master of Public Health from the College of Public Health and Health Professions.[citation needed] She has served as an administrative adviser in the Summit County fiscal office.[5] In 2013, Sykes decided to run for the Ohio House of Representatives to succeed her father Vernon, who was term-limited.[6] She defeated Summit County Councilman Frank Communale to secure the Democratic nomination.[7] Sykes defeated Republican nominee Cynthia Blake 72%-28% in the general election.[8]

In 2015, Sykes and fellow Democratic lawmaker Greta Johnson introduced a bill that sought to exempt feminine hygiene products from sales tax.[9]

In 2019, she was elected the leader of the Democrats in the Ohio House, becoming Minority Leader.[10]

During the 2020 Democratic Party presidential primaries, Sykes supported Joe Biden‘s presidential campaign.[11]

Sykes won the EMILY’s List 2020 Gabby Giffords Rising Star Award.[12]

In January 2022, she announced her candidacy for Ohio’s 13th congressional district.[13]

Election history

Ohio House 34th District
2014Emilia Sykes17,29971.9%Cynthia Blake6,08228.1%
2016Emilia Sykes35,15477.1%Gene Littlefield10,42022.9%
2018Emilia Sykes30,16478.4%Josh Sines8,32921.6%
2020Emilia Sykes36,25176.8%Henry Todd10,92623.2%


  1. ^ “Lawyer Directory – The Florida Bar”. Retrieved Mar 17, 2020.
  2. ^ “Emilia Strong Sykes Lawyer Profile on Martindale.com”. www.martindale.com. Retrieved Mar 17, 2020.
  3. ^ “Sykes tells local Democrats about ‘Ohio Promise’ – Morrow County Sentinel”. www.morrowcountysentinel.com. 2019-07-26. Retrieved 2019-12-20.
  4. ^ “For the Ohio House: Emilia Sykes and Greta Johnson”. Akron Beacon Journal. Retrieved 2019-12-20.
  5. ^ “First New Democratic House Leader in Five Years Has Strong Ties to the Statehouse”. 28 January 2019. Retrieved 2019-03-27.
  6. ^ “Emilia Sykes to seek the Ohio House seat her family long has held”. Akron Beacon Journal. Akron. 2013-09-17. Retrieved 2014-12-10.
  7. ^ “Emilia Sykes in the Democratic primary for Ohio House District 34: editorial endorsement”. Cleveland Plain Dealer. Cleveland. 2014-04-29. Retrieved 2014-12-10.
  8. ^ REPORTER, Ellin Walsh |. “Sykes wins 34th Ohio State House District seat”. MyTownNEO. Retrieved 2019-12-20.
  9. ^ “Is ‘Tampon Tax’ discriminatory to women?”. WCPO. 2016-03-31. Retrieved 2020-03-23.
  10. ^ “Emilia Sykes named new Ohio House Democratic leader”. Akron Beacon Journal. Akron, Ohio. 2019-01-21. Retrieved 2019-03-27.
  11. ^ Richardson, Seth A. (March 11, 2020). “Joe Biden announces backing from Emilia Sykes, more than half of Cleveland City Council”. Cleveland.com. Retrieved March 23, 2020.
  12. ^ Mills, Emily. “Emilia Sykes wins national award for dedication to women, families”. Akron Beacon Journal. Retrieved July 2, 2020.
  13. ^ DeNatale, Dave “Dino” (January 18, 2022). “Former Ohio House Democratic Leader Emilia Sykes announces run for Congress”. WKYC. Retrieved March 27, 2022.

External links

Ohio House of Representatives
Preceded by

Minority Leader of the Ohio House of Representatives
Succeeded by

Preceded by

Member of the Ohio House of Representatives
from the 34th district