7th Congressional District Candidate has been on frontlines and in the trenches

Kina Collins has been on the frontlines, from leading the largest gun violence prevention nonprofit in the state of Illinois to co-authoring legislation to create the Illinois Council on Women and Girl. Photo provided by Kina Collins
Kina Collins has been on the frontlines, from leading the largest gun violence prevention nonprofit in the state of Illinois to co-authoring legislation to create the Illinois Council on Women and Girl. Photo provided by Kina Collins

 7th Congressional District Candidate has been on frontlines and in the trenches

By Tia Carol Jones
Kina Collins is running for the 7th Congressional District against incumbent Congressman Danny Davis and Denarvis Mendenhall. Collins answered questions about issues she believes are important to the community and her experience as a part of the community and how it has translated to the creation of policies.
Citizen Newspaper: Why did you decide to run again for the 7th Congressional District?
Collins: I was born in Austin on the West Side. I am a daughter of this district.  I grew tired of watching communities like mine get left behind by our leaders in Washington. We need a leader who will not only vote the right way, but one who will fight for us and prioritize the issues that most impact our community, from the gun violence epidemic, to neighborhoods that lack a single grocery store, to climate change, to abortion access. I am running to be that fighter that I know our district deserves.
Citizen Newspaper: What did you learn from the first campaign that you are using this time to ensure a win?
Collins: I think we did a lot of important work the first time around. We spoke with lots of voters and ultimately came in second in a crowded field, despite raising and spending the least money. This year, we’re building on what we did in 2020 by creating an operation and building the infrastructure to win in June, and be ready to hit the ground running once I’m sworn in. Every day we are talking to voters about the issues they care about most deeply. Organizers, activists, and progressives have consolidated behind our campaign. We’re bringing in more groups nationally and locally — from Indivisible, to Sunrise Movement, to Women’s March Illinois, and many more. We even outraised the incumbent in 2021. Congressman Danny Davis has not faced a primary challenge this serious in his entire career.
Citizen Newspaper: You have organized for Medicare for All and founded the Chicago Neighborhood Alliance, why has it been important for you to be at the forefront of policymaking and community activism?
Collins: Organizing is in my blood. When I see pain or suffering in my community, I can’t help but step up and fight back. It’s what I’ve done my whole life. When Laquan McDonald, a seventeen-year-old Black child, was murdered by a white police officer, I showed up and protested. When my community was ravaged by gun violence, I stepped up and organized around gun violence prevention, led the largest gun violence prevention nonprofit in the State of Illinois, and took on the gun lobby in Illinois and across the country.  When former-President Donald Trump unilaterally dismantled the rights of women on the national level by destroying the White House Council on Women and Girls, I co-authored legislation to create the Illinois Council on Women and Girls and put in the work to get it passed and signed into law by the Republican governor.
Whether on the frontlines of a protest or a rally, or in policy rooms with lawmakers, I show up and fight back when my community needs me.
Citizen Newspaper: What do you think is the single most important issue in the District?
Collins: As a survivor of everyday gun violence, I understand the importance of ensuring safety in our communities. I led the largest gun violence prevention non-profit in the State of Illinois and served on the Biden-Harris transition team’s task force on gun violence. I fought to block illegal ownership of guns and to hold gun shops and manufacturers accountable for the guns that float into Illinois from neighboring states. In congress I will continue to support common sense gun reforms such as universal background checks on all gun sales, red flag laws, banning assault rifles, and raising the legal age to purchase a gun to 21. We also need to strike at the root cause of gun violence, which is poverty. We need a leader who will fight for the funds needed to fully invest in our schools, our mental health programs, and our infrastructure. We need to invest in the people of this district.
Citizen Newspaper: Why do you think transparency and communication are important when it comes to the role of an elected official?
Collins: My entire life I’ve seen politicians speak out of both sides of their mouths. Leading up to an election, they promise that they will fight for your best interests. Then, when they get into office, oftentimes, they fail to deliver on those promises. I think transparency and communication are vital as an elected official. Constituents need to know where their representatives stand on pressing issues and why.  Representatives need to lead with their constituents' best interests in mind. That’s a large part of why I don’t accept any corporate or PAC money. Grassroots donors fund my campaign. If elected, I will know exactly who sent me to Congress and those are the people and communities I would be fighting for.
Citizen Newspaper: How will you ensure that the issues that affect everyone in the District are addressed in Congress?
Collins: Part of the solution is better, more frequent, communication. I believe that constituents should not just hear from their Representative when elections roll around. When I’m in Congress, my office will proactively reach out to constituents to see what they need from me and my office and how we can better serve them. I will host a town hall in the district at least once a month and hold listening sessions on the key issues and legislation in Congress. When Members of Congress are actively involved in their district, they’ve got skin in the game, ensuring that they are zealous advocates for their constituents.
Citizen Newspaper: What is the key piece of legislation you would introduce and why?
Collins: Within my first 100 days in office, I plan to convene a task force within the community aimed squarely at closing the 30-year life expectancy gap in our district. I will introduce companion legislation designed to implement the goals and recommendations of that task force. I will also plan to be an original co-sponsor of legislation to lift the liability shield on gun manufacturers to hold giant manufacturers and gun shops accountable for their role in trafficking illegal guns into our district.
Citizen Newspaper: How do you think certain attributes and experience set you apart from the other candidates?
Collins: Lived experience is what sets me apart from other candidates. I spent my entire life working for change in my community and across the district – from the frontlines protests to the policy rooms in Springfield. I led the largest gun violence prevention group in Illinois, wrote and passed state legislation, served on the Biden-Harris transition team’s task force on gun violence, and organized 20,000 doctors and medical students across the country in the fight for Medicare for All. I am a public policy expert, a leader, and a problem solver. These attributes and my experience have shaped me into the person I am today and meet the urgency of this moment.
For more information about Kina Collins and the 7th District Congressional Campaign, visit kinacollins.com

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