By Maria Maxham
Kina Collins, candidate for the 7th Congressional District, made an appearance in Forest Park at the home of Etta Worthington on Nov. 3 to talk to residents about her platform.
Collins, who is taking on long-term incumbent Danny Davis, hopes to bring a fresh approach to the office.
"This is not about me running a campaign," said Collins. "This is us starting a movement. We need to ask why more women, and why more women of color, haven't been elevated into leadership. We have a choice in the 2020 primary."
One of the first things she wants to do is work on water problems in Chicago. She recounted stories of moms in Englewood asking her about the lead in the pipes.
"This is America," said Collins. "Americans should not be begging for a clean glass of water." The problem is mostly on the South and West sides of the city and, added Collins, is a matter of "environmental justice."
Her plan is to have the piping pulled up and replaced and to bring in FEMA to put in water filtration systems.
Collins said that what sets her aside from another candidate, Anthony Clark of Oak Park, whose platform is similar, is words versus actions.
"It's one thing to be an activist," said Collins. "We need activists. But it's another to be an organizer. And I'm an organizer." She referred to policy she has already written and passed, as a Democrat under a Republican administration.
"I'm a coalition builder. I go into contentious spaces and don't water down my message to get things done, but I'm willing to listen. You can't understand an issue if you're too reactive off the bat. You need to take time to really consider someone else's point of view."
She has strong feelings on immigration and has worked with PASO to help build her platform on the issue. She wants to repeal the law that criminalizes crossing the border, she wants legal representation provided for immigrants who are imprisoned, and she wants to eliminate detention bonds.
"Our district's Hispanic population is increasing," said Collins. "We need to represent everyone."
Education is another important topic to Collins, who wants to see neighborhood schools strengthened. "We need to end the school-to-prison pipeline," said Collins, and she'd like to see it done by investing in preventive approaches such as more social workers and nurses in schools, investment in STEM programs and services to help parents as well as students.
The primaries are on March 17.