Kina Collins

Another candidate has announced her run for the Illinois 7th Congressional District seat. Gun violence prevention advocate Kina Collins filed the paperwork establishing her candidacy on May 13, her campaign announced. 

According to the statement her campaign released, Collins, a native of Chicago’s Austin community, co-authored legislation signed into law in 2018 that established the Illinois Council on Women and Girls — a body that advises the governor on gender policies in Illinois. 

Some of the goals of the council include helping to end the gender pay gap, bolstering legal protections against workplace sexual harassment, and confronting domestic violence, among others. 

Currently, Collins is a national organizer with Physicians for a National Health Program — a 20,000-member organization comprising medical doctors, medical students and other health care professionals who support universal, single-payer health insurance. 

She’s also a leader with Generation Progress — a progressive research and advocacy group created by the Center for American Progress, a liberal public policy think tank — and the founder of the Chicago Neighborhood Alliance. 

In her role with Generation Progress, Collins worked to launch the Beyond the Gun Campaign, a national violence prevention initiative. 

In her statement, she said the 7th Congressional District, “the most diverse” in the state, has “some of the greatest disparities in the country. The residents of our district deserve a fighter. We deserve full access to quality health care, neighborhoods and school zones free of gun violence, and reforms to a criminal justice system that disproportionately targets the lives of men and women of color.” 

On her campaign website, Collins advocates for the implementation of a single-payer Medicare for All health care system, supports safe and legal abortions, calls for the defunding Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and supports a $15 federal minimum wage. Collins’ campaign noted that a full policy platform will be available on the website in the fall. 

In February 2018, Collins quit her position with the campaign of then-candidate for governor, J.B. Pritzker, over racially insensitive comments he made about black politicians, namely Secretary of State Jesse White and former Senate President Emil Jones, during a leaked phone conversation with then-governor Rod Blagojevich. 

“The 26-year-old Austin resident joined Pritzker’s campaign last November as a West Side organizer,” according to an ABC 7 report published at the time. “But when she heard the tapes from 2009 where Pritzker and Rod Blagojevich were talking about possible candidates to fill Barack Obama’s Senate seat and Pritzker called Jesse White the ‘least offensive’ black candidate and Emil Jones too ‘crass,’ Collins quit the Pritzker campaign.”

“It was the thought of having to come back to my community and defend those comments which I couldn’t reconcile with, and so because of that I had to draw a line in the sand and leave the campaign,” Collins told reporters. 

Collins is at least the second candidate under 40 to publicly announce a bid to succeed the powerful Danny K. Davis, the 7th District’s longtime incumbent. Oak Park teacher and activist Anthony Clark announced last month that he would make a second bid for the office. 

Davis beat Clark, 74-26 percent, in the Democratic Primary election on March 20, 2018. Davis has so far not publicly unannounced his intentions. The next Democratic Party primaries are in 2020.