Both of Emilia Sykes’ parents served in the Ohio Legislature, so she saw first-hand the difficulties of campaigning and governing. She never thought she would follow in their footsteps, but when her father was term-limited out of the General Assembly in 2014, she was troubled by the candidates who began vying for his seat. “I felt like they were thinking of this position as a stepping stone. It wasn’t about a real commitment to the community,” she says.
Sykes decided to run for her father’s seat. It wasn’t easy campaigning as a young black woman, she says, but she ended up winning handily. She’s an active member of the House, and she serves as the assistant minority whip for the Democratic Caucus. She’s pushed hard for legislation to allow victims of dating violence to obtain civil protection orders; Ohio is one of only a few states not to offer such protections. After passing unanimously in the House more than a year ago, the bill sat idle until being taken up by the state Senate this session, where it still awaits consideration.