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Ohio Senate District 28

Ohio Senator Base Salary: $60,584Term commences: 01/01/21 Term of office: 4 yearsResponsibilities: To represent the people of the district and the state of Ohio in dealing with matters not allocated to the federal government.

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    Vernon Sykes

Biographical Information

1. In what ways would you change our election system to be prepared for crises that impair the right to vote?

2. Under what circumstances is it appropriate for the state to restrain or check local government?

3. How would you improve the Ohio public school funding system?

4.Where do you stand on efforts to protect our water, air and land?

5. What legislation, if any, would you suggest to address gun safety?

6. What solutions do you propose to address challenges in the healthcare system, women's reproductive rights and maternal and child health?

7. Do you support the repeal and/or replacement of House Bill 6? Would you support legislation requiring disclosure of all donors to groups seeking to influence elections and the end of so-called 'dark money' donations?

Campaign Phone (330) 212-0585
Campaign email
Education Ph.D., Public Administration, Public Administration & Urban Studies, University of Akron, 2001 M.P.A., Public Administration, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, 1986 M.S., Social & Applied Economics, Graduate School of Business, Wright State University, 1980 B.B.A., Management, Organizational Behavior, College of Business Administration, Ohio University, 1974
Training/Experience State Senator, 28th Senate District Committees Assignments: Ranking Member of Finance Committee; Education Committee; General Government & Agency Review Committee; Transportation, Commerce & Workforce Committee; Ways & Means Committee; Tax Review & Expenditure Committee; Controlling Board; Ohio Complete Count Committee. Ohio Senate, 2017-Present Associate Professor of Political Science Director Columbus Program in Intergovernmental Issues MPA Internship Coordinator for the Master’s Program in Public Administration Kent State University, 2001-June 2020 Assistant Professor of Social Science Taught the following courses: American Urban Society, and Basic Survey of Economics, Human Relations, Macro Economics, State & Local Government. The University of Akron, 1998-2001 State Representative, 34th House District Selected leadership positions: Assistant Majority Floor Leader; Chair, House Finance a& Appropriations Committee; Chair, Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review; Co-Chair, Ohio Constitution Modernization Committee; President, Ohio Legislative Black Caucus; Co-Chair, Budget Planning & Management Commission. Ohio House of Representatives, 1983- 2000 & 2007- 2014 Akron 3rd Ward Councilman Selected leadership positions: Chair, Audit Committee; Chair, Health & Social Services Committee; Chair, Recycle Energy Committee; Vice-Chair, Downtown Redevelopment Committee. City of Akron,1980-1983 Planner, Research & Evaluation Monitored and evaluated approximately seventy criminal justice programs, which were administered by governmental agencies and funded by the Criminal Justice Commission. Developed program evaluation strategies to gather statistical information to analyze the performance of criminal justice programs. Coordinated the analysis and publication of the annual Comprehensive Criminal Justice Plan. Summit County Criminal Justice Commission, 1977-1979 Assistant Fiscal Officer Monitored fiscal operations of criminal justice programs including: cost/benefit and budget analysis; grants management and closeout audits; journal and ledger accounting entries; payroll and workers compensation reports; and supervising account clerk. Summit County Criminal Justice Commission, 1976-1977 Senior Management Specialist Managed the agency’s small business services division. Collaborated with target area residents to assess the needs and opportunities for business development. Developed and coordinated programs directed at addressing economic needs of target area residents and minority businesses. Provided assistance to target area residents in conducting market analyses, preparing business plans, and evaluating the performance of agency-sponsored programs. Economic Development Program, United Neighborhood Council, 1975-1976
Current Occupation State Senator
Ohio must strengthen our absentee voting process by taking simple steps immediately, such as sending absentee ballots to every registered Ohioan in times of crisis. We should also pay return postage on absentee ballots every year, not just during the current pandemic. No one should be forced to pay in order to vote. In addition, our legislature should clarify that absentee ballots may be requested electronically, and that Boards of Elections may place multiple ballot secure drop boxes throughout their counties. Voters shouldn't be forced to travel long distances to return their ballot.

I am a joint sponsor of Senate Bill 186, which would create an automatic voter registration system in Ohio. Under this bill, when Ohioans go to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles for a driver's license or state ID, the data they provide could also be used to automatically register them to vote or update their voter registration. We should make it as easy as possible to register to vote, maintain accurate records and participate in the political process.

I also jointly sponsored the most recent constitutional amendments that will reduce partisan gerrymandering by requiring our state legislative and congressional districts be drawn using fairer guidelines. Ohio voters should choose their legislators, not the other way around.
I am a strong supporter of home rule and local control. Our local leaders overall should be trusted to make decisions that are best for the people who elected them. The state should really only step in if a community passes a local ordinance that is harmful or dangerous to the public, or if multiple local communities pass conflicting ordinances that come into conflict with each other.

Unfortunately, some of my colleagues prefer to use the state's power to stop local communities from taking actions they simply disagree with politically. For example, local communities are prohibited from raising their minimum wage, or adopting certain residency requirements. Currently there are also attempts to stop local communities from banning plastic bags. These are not acceptable uses of legislative authority.
Ohio's current education funding system has been repeatedly ruled unconstitutional by the Ohio Supreme Court since 1997. It relies too much on property taxes, so poor communities often end up with underfunded schools. The quality of a child's education should not be determined by their zip code. We must create a constitutional funding system that fully funds local schools, does not force communities to rely on the passage of levies, and takes individual factors such as socioeconomic data into account as well. We must also stop funneling money for our public schools into voucher programs and for-profit charter schools. Charter schools should be funded by a separate source, and vouchers should be restricted to highly specific circumstances. When we create a system that treats education funding as a priority, Ohio families will have better options for public education.
I strongly support legislation that protects our environment and keeps our water clean. One of the reasons I voted against HB 6 was that it removes Ohio's renewable energy standards and harms our environment.

I've also cosponsored bills and resolutions like SJR 4 last term, which would help fund sewer and water quality projects to keep our water clean.

I support legislation to create universal background checks without loopholes. I also support red flag laws, which create a process for temporarily removing firearms from individuals who are showing signs of becoming a danger to themselves or others (such as threatening social media posts).

In addition, I will be reintroducing my safe storage bill, which would provide incentives for gun owners to properly store firearms when children are present. Basic, common sense protections maintain our rights while also saving innocent lives.
I am a joint sponsor of Senate Bill 121, which would required the State Board of Education to establish health education standards for our primary and secondary schools. Ohio is the only state in the nation that does not have health education standards. The proposed standards would be permissive and proffer guidelines to assist local school boards in providing quality health education instruction.

The legislature should stop attacking Medicaid by adding unnecessary burdens such as work requirements. They must also stop defunding critical programs that support reproductive healthcare and maternal/child health. I will continue to fight against these damaging bills each time they come through the Statehouse. Our legislature should increase funding for Planned Parenthood's Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies program, and similar services aimed at decreasing Ohio's troubling infant mortality rate. We should expand broadband and allow insurance to cover telemedicine as well. We should take positive steps forward and direct resources toward public health rather than placing additional barriers to healthcare access.
I voted against HB 6 when it was enacted, and when given the opportunity, I will vote for its repeal. I will continue to support sound comprehensive energy policy that maintains reasonable renewable energy standards, promotes economic development and protects jobs and is fair to rate payers.

I would strongly support legislation requiring the disclosure of donors to all groups. This would help keep dark money out of politics.