The race to replace term-limited Rep. Vernon Sykes in House District 34 just got a bit more interesting.
In September, Rep. Sykes’ daughter, Emilia Sykes, announced that she would run to take her father’s place in the Ohio House. At 27, she does not bring a lot of experience to the race, but has a considerable advantage with name identification. Not only will she be replacing her father if she is successful, but her mother has held the seat as well. The district has actually had a Sykes representing it for the past 30 years. You can learn more about her on her campaign website: http://emiliasykes.com/
While it seemed the path to victory was all but assured, that may not be the case now. Just yesterday, Summit County Councilman Frank Comunale announced that he will also be running for the seat, setting up a contested primary for May 6. Comunale, a Democrat, has served on Summit County Council for eight years and has a well-known name in Akron. In addition to his position on county council, he is a vice president with S.A. Comunale, a fire protection contractor located in Barberton. In 2010, he ran for the Ohio Senate against current Sen. Frank LaRose, losing 56-43%.
The district is located largely in the city of Akron, with the addition of parts of Bath Township and Cuyahoga Falls, and is considered strongly Democratic. A potentially major factor in the primary will be race. Over 40% of the district is African-American, which will have a significant impact on the electorate in a Democratic primary. This may give Sykes, who is African-American, an advantage over Comunale.