“It’s been said we stand on the shoulders of those who came before us.
For me, the shoulders on which I stand include Helen Rankin; now-congresswoman Joyce Beatty, the first woman to be elected Ohio House Democratic leader; and of course, my mother, the first Black woman to serve on Akron City Council at-large, Barbara Sykes. Their leadership in Ohio has blazed a trail for all women but especially for Black women and women of color. Their path wasn’t easy, but they made it more bearable for those of us who followed. So, to all the women who have ever been the first, thank you for not being the last. This girl from Akron certainly appreciates you.” Akron Beacon Journal, 10/14/21
BACKGRLOUIND + EXPERIENCE
Emelia Sykes was born + raised in Akron + has a BA from Kent State University + a JD + Master of Public Health from the University of Florida. She served as an administrative staff adviser in the Summit County Fiscal Office where she worked to create a county land bank to repurpose vacant + abandoned properties. She was Law Clerk to the Chief Judge of U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Northern District of Georgia office.
Prior to her election to Congress in 2022, Rep. Sykes served as an Ohio legislator (2015-2022). In that capacity, she served as Assistant Whip, Whip + Minority Leader. As a State Representative, Sykes pushed an aggressive job-creation plan, fighting to keep local jobs for local workers + to expand opportunities for middle- + working-class families in Akron. Under her leadership, Democrats secured historic investments to improve public transit systems across the state, rebuild Ohio’s roads + bridges + expand affordable broadband access.
In 2022, Rep. Sykes defeated Madison Gilbert, Republican Fox News personality, in the newly redrawn 13th district in one of the toughest races in the nation. In Congress, Rep. Sykes has worked in a bipartisan way to advance economic opportunity, affordable health care + safer communities for Northeast Ohio.
• Supports infrastructure investment to “see necessary improvements in water quality, infrastructure + safety, while also easing access to educational opportunities, housing + affordable health care…vital to building a stronger economy.” (Sykes website)
• “As elected officials, we should be making it easier for our constituents’ voices to be heard at every level of government, we work for the people, not the other way around.” (Twitter, 5/10/23)
• “A women’s body should not be subject to the whims of politicians. Reproductive rights are human rights + every American deserves to make their own decisions about their healthcare. It’s time for action- women cannot wait.” (Twitter, 8/7/23)
POLITICS IN OHIO
As a result of the 2020 Census, Ohio redistricting is strongly favorable to Republicans. Most recently (9/23), the Courts ruled that the gerrymandered districts used in 2022 will be used in 2024. Ohio’s 15 House Representatives are split between 10 Republicans + five Democrats. Though Ohio is increasingly a red state, several incumbent Democrats are in significantly competitive races for 2024 including Representatives Sykes, Marcy Kaptur + Greg Landsman.
In addition, US Senator Sherrod Brown is up for re-election in what will be an extremely competitive race against the winner of the Republican primary on March 19, 2024.
Rep. Sykes’ Republican opponent is Chris Banweg, Hudson City.
Currently, the race is rated Toss-up by both the Cook Political Report + Sabato’s Crystal Ball. Ohio has long been a key battleground state in Presidential elections until Trump’s 8% margin of victory in 2020. Ohio is trending increasingly Republican with strong MAGA influence as demonstrated by JD Vance’s victory for Ohio Senate in 2022.
COMMITTEES AND CAUCUSES
• Committee on Transportation + Infrastructure including Vice-Ranking Member of the Water
• Resources + Environment Subcommittee
• Committee on Science, Space + Technology
• Black Caucus
• The New Democrat Coalition
• Democratic Women’s Caucus
• Pro- Choice,
• Sustainable Energy + Environment
• Problem Solvers
• Future Forum
• Voting Rights