Senator Sykes is currently serving his second term in the Ohio Senate, where he represents the 28th district, which includes: Akron, Barberton, Coventry, Green, Lakemore, Mogadore, Springfield, Tallmadge, and portions of Bath and Cuyahoga Falls. In addition to his work as a Senator, Sykes is a Professor Emeritus of Political Science and former Director of the Columbus Program in State Issues at Kent State University, and serves as the President of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus. Sykes has held previous positions in the Akron City Council and the Ohio House of Representatives.
Called to public service at a young age, Senator Sykes has worked to improve life for Ohioans. As a longtime advocate for redistricting reform, Sykes championed for the redistricting of Ohio’s state legislative and congressional districts to give Ohioans more choices, better reflecting their needs at the Statehouse and in Congress. He has also passionately (and with success) fought to create meaningful legislation that expands access to early childhood education, makes higher education more affordable, combats child abuse, and prevents housing discrimination against people with disabilities.
Senator Sykes’ unwavering commitment to his constituents opened many doors for him during his time spent in the Ohio House of Representatives. Sen. Sykes has served as Assistant Majority Floor Leader, Chair of the House Finance & Appropriations Committee, Chair of the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review, Co-Chair of the Ohio Constitution Modernization Committee, and Co-Chair of the Budget Planning & Management Commission. Currently, Senator Sykes is the ranking member of the Senate Finance and Small Business & Economic Opportunity Committees. He also serves on the Primary and Secondary Education Committee, Local Government & Elections Committee, Controlling Board, Rail Development Commission, Ohio Legislative Children's Caucus, The Ohio Legislative Black Caucus, Fatherhood Commission, and Business First Caucus.
That same commitment and innovation has earned Senator Sykes’ several distinguished awards, including but not limited to Public Elected Official of the Year award (2012 National Association of Social Workers), Champion for Working Families & Civil Rights Award (2015 Ohio AFL-CIO), Legislative Champion of the Year (2018 Ohio Alliance of Boys and Girls Clubs), Outstanding Contributions to Health Education Award (2018 Ohio Society of Public Health Education), Legislator of the Year Award (2018 Ohio Association of Elections Officials), Small Business Advocate of the Year Award (2018 Greater Cleveland Partnership and its Council of Smaller Enterprises), Progressive Hero Award (2020 Ohio Democratic Party), and Emeritus standing as of December 1, 2020 at Kent State University.
Senator Sykes completed his undergraduate studies at Ohio University where received his B.B.A. in Management and Organizational Behavior. From there, Sykes attended Wright State University and Harvard University where he earned a Masters of Social and Applied Economics and a Masters of Public Administration, respectively. All of which lead to the achievement of Dr. Sykes earning a Ph.D. in Public Administration from the University of Akron.
Senator Sykes is married to Barbara Sykes, president and CEO of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus Foundation. They have two beautiful daughters, Stancy and Emilia, and two energetically loving grandchildren, Hugh and Hope.