Sykes Caps Off Busy Year by Winning "Legislator of the Year" Award
January 11, 2019
Ed Leonard (left) and Senator Vernon Sykes at the OAEO's awards ceremony on January 10
This week, state Senator Vernon Sykes (D-Akron) was named Legislator of the Year by the Ohio Association of Elections Officials (OAEO) for his work to bring Ohioans fairer legislative districts and more meaningful representation. Senator Sykes played an instrumental role in the congressional redistricting reform that was approved by the legislature in February 2018 and was later overwhelmingly approved by Ohio voters as a constitutional amendment.
“It’s always an honor to be recognized for your efforts and contributions,” said Senator Sykes. “However, this award is not about me or what I’ve done. It’s about looking toward the future and figuring out how to use this momentum to push for better policy. We still have a lot of work to do in terms of increasing access to early childhood education, protecting voter access and reforming our criminal sentencing laws.”
Senator Sykes was a joint sponsor of Senate Joint Resolution 5, the bill that reformed the way Ohio’s congressional districts are drawn by limiting one-party control and mandating public input. He was also the chief negotiator for Senate Democrats.
Introducing Senator Sykes at the OAEO’s annual luncheon and awards ceremony at the Hilton Downtown Columbus on January 10, Ed Leonard, director of the Franklin County Board of Elections, said: “The word ‘statesman’ is not used often around Columbus, especially when describing members of the General Assembly. But I can hardly think of a more fitting word to describe Senator Vernon Sykes. In a term-limited environment all too commonly marked by hyper-partisanship and self-promotion, Senator Sykes stands in stark contrast. His experience, soothing demeanor, quick smile, thoughtful insights, humility and civility are a beacon of hope for the citizens of Ohio and a model which every Ohio legislator can emulate.”
This isn’t the first recognition Senator Sykes received in the past year. He was named 2018 Legislative Champion of the Year by the Ohio Alliance of Boys and Girls Clubs and won the Outstanding Contributions to Health Education award from the Ohio Society for Public Health Education for his efforts to establish statewide health education standards.
In the past year, Senator Sykes worked on some of Ohio’s most pressing issues. He was at the center of negotiations dealing with increasing accountability for pharmacy benefit managers, pushed to revamp Medicaid’s behavioral health sector to combat the opioid crisis and worked to adapt new funding models for traditional and online schools.
Perhaps one of the achievements Senator Sykes is most proud of is the passage of his wrongful imprisonment reform legislation, which had been a career goal since he first introduced the bill as a member of the Ohio House of Representatives in 1986.