Senator Vernon Sykes is currently serving his first term in the Ohio State Senate, representing the 28th district. The 28th district includes: Akron, Barberton, Coventry, Green, Lakemore, Mogadore, Springfield, Tallmadge, and portions of Bath and Cuyahoga Falls.
Senator Sykes has dedicated much of his life to public service. He previously served in Akron City Council and the Ohio House of Representatives. Since 2001, Dr. Sykes has passed along his experience in public service to students as a professor of Political Science and Director of the Columbus Program in State Issues at Kent State University.
During his time in office, Senator Sykes has worked to improve life for ordinary Ohioans. He’s fought passionately to expand access to early childhood education and make higher education more affordable. He’s also passed bipartisan legislation to fight child abuse and prevent housing discrimination against people with disabilities.
Senator Sykes is a longtime advocate for redistricting reform. As a Representative, his bipartisan efforts led to successful ballot initiatives to redraw Ohio’s state legislative and congressional districts. Ohio voters overwhelmingly approved the ballot initiatives. Senator Sykes believes districts drawn in a fairer way give Ohioans more choices, which better reflect their needs at the Statehouse and in Congress.
His dedication to his constituents earned him several leadership positions while a member of the Ohio House of Representatives. He 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. He was also honored to be chosen as President of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus.
He has been the recipient of several distinguished awards throughout his career. This includes the 2012 “Public Elected Official of the Year award” from the National Association of Social Workers, the 2015 “Champion for Working Families & Civil Rights Award” from the Ohio AFL-CIO, the 2018 "Legislative Champion of the Year" by the Ohio Alliance of Boys and Girls Clubs, the 2018 "Outstanding Contributions to Health Education Award" from the Ohio Society of Public Health Education, the 2018 "Legislator of the Year Award" by the Ohio Association of Elections Officials, and the 2018 "Small Business Advocate of the Year Award" from the Greater Cleveland Partnership and its Council of Smaller Enterprises.
Dr. Sykes earned his B.B.A. in Management and Organizational Behavior from Ohio University. He also holds a Masters of Social and Applied Economics from Wright State University and a Masters of Public Administration from Harvard University. He later earned 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 daughters, Stancy and Emilia, and two grandchildren, Hugh and Hope.