State Rep. Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) recently sent a letter* to Gov. John Kasich asking him to bring his administration to the mediation table to resolve her Ohio Civil Rights Commission investigation into reported discrimination and bias surrounding Statehouse security practices.
“You frequently talk about bringing people together to solve problems and making sure our actions reflect our American values of equality and fairness,” Sykes wrote to Kasich. “I appeal to you in an effort to gain your assistance in bringing your Department of Public Safety and Department of Administrative Services to the mediation table with me and the Ohio Civil Rights Commission to resolve experiences of gender discrimination and racial bias in Statehouse security practices.”
Sykes noted that she has tried working with Kasich’s director of public safety, Col. John Born, to resolve her and others’ complaints, but that the agency and the State Highway Patrol have yet to even acknowledge the issues, let alone issue an apology.
“After a lot of thought, prayer and reflection, I felt I had no choice but to file a civil rights violation complaint after numerous meetings with Public Safety and the patrol went nowhere,” Sykes continued in the letter. “Now, we are faced with a unique opportunity to bring all responsible parties together around one table to reflect on these instances of discrimination and bias to ensure nobody is ever treated this way by a state agency or officer again.”
In position statements filed with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission on Aug. 16, all agencies denied a request for mediation, prompting a full investigation by the commission. Sykes says there is still time to reverse course and come together.
“I respectfully urge you to compel your DPS director and DAS director to reconsider mediation. Not only would this avenue save taxpayers significant time and money by sidestepping a full OCRC investigation, but by working together we can build long-lasting results and a deeper understanding of each other to make sure everyone feels welcome in our state,” Sykes concluded in the letter.
*A full copy of the letter is attached.