COLUMBUS –House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) today issued a statement following reports that Governor Mike DeWine’s new health director Dr. Joan Duwve withdrew her acceptance hours after it was announced because she learned of the “harassment” Dr. Amy Acton had faced while she had the job.


Dr. Acton announced her resignation in June after months of House Republicans attempting to curb her power as health director in the middle of a pandemic and hurling anti-Semitic insults at her. Following Dr. Acton’s resignation, Leader Sykes pointed out how we have seen these types of sustained GOP-hate filled attacks before. “Historically, these types of abusive tactics to bully and intimidate have proven to be successful which is why they continue to be used,” Leader Sykes said in June. “And over and over again, good people suffer and are silenced or even forced to resign.”


The resignation of Dr. Duwve only took a matter of hours. Following today’s reports that Dr. Acton’s harassment was the reason Dr. Duwve withdrew her acceptance of the job, Leader Sykes release this statement:


“I don’t know Dr. Duwve personally but I can certainly sympathize with how she felt when she abruptly declined to move back to her home state of Ohio with her family because of the Republican extremists who don’t value public health. Extremists who were likely ready to publicly criticize her job performance and actively seek to get her fired without consideration of intellect or skill, but to promote propaganda and conspiracy theories. For years, Republicans have created an unwelcome environment for women with their abusive legislation and bullying tactics. This is simply the latest and most high profile story we have seen of people being turned away from our state because of it.


House Republicans refuse to see the damage their behavior is inflicting on our state and they refuse to stop. As a pandemic ravages our state, Ohioans are left without a public health leader to guide us because of them.”


Sykes earned a Masters of Public Health from the College of Public Health and Health Professions at the University of Florida.


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