About the Candidate
Name: Kina Collins
DOB: March 8, 1991
Occupation: Gun Violence Prevention Advocate & Organizer
Political Experience: I have been on the frontlines of protests, led the largest gun violence prevention nonprofit in the state, served on the Biden-Harris transition team’s task force on gun violence prevention, and in 2017, I co-authored legislation to create the IL Council on Women and Girls and worked to get it passed by the Illinois legislature.
My name is Kina Collins. I am running to be the next Congresswoman for Illinois’ 7th District.
I’m a native of Chicago, born and raised on the West Side to working-class, union parents.
I am a daughter of this district.
When I was in grade school, I witnessed a murder in my neighborhood. I knew the shooter and I knew the victim. And it changed my life.
I went on to lead the largest gun violence prevention non-profit in the state of Illinois.
Then I served on President Biden’s transition team and task force on gun violence prevention.
When the rights of women and girls were under attack in our country, I co-authored my first civil rights bill on the state level and helped pass the Illinois Council on Women and Girls Act. Our coalition took on the Illinois GOP and we won.
I am a survivor, a public policy expert, but most importantly I'm a leader and a problem solver and that’s what our district deserves.
Illinois 7th has had the same representative for 25 years – since I was 5 years old.
The job description for Congress has changed. These urgent times require new ideas and energy on gun violence, immigration, voting rights, reproductive health care, and pandemic relief and recovery for everyday people.
Every family and every resident in our district deserves a safe community.
Voters in this primary have a choice. We can vote for the district as it is or we can vote for the district that we should be.
A district where school zones and neighborhoods are free from gun violence. Where every neighborhood has affordable housing. Where every person earns a living wage and has full access to quality healthcare at the point of need.
This future for our district is not unattainable, it just requires political courage.
We need a fighter in Illinois-7th who will prioritize and lead on the issues that matter most to the people of this district.
I am running to be that leader.
Why are you running?
I’m running because the urgency of this moment, and the crises that we are facing demand urgency from our leaders. From the gun violence epidemic, to climate change, to the lack of grocery stores in our neighborhoods, our district is hurting. We need a leader who will fight for our district and prioritize these issues that most impact the community. I am running to be the leader that I know our district deserves.
What does this office do well, and what needs fixing?
The purpose of the U.S. House is to be a forum in which the American people can participate in the experiment of a representative democracy. And I believe that Congress has, for the most part, been successful in fulfilling that goal. I believe that Americans would be better served if Congress looked more like the American people. Right now, the majority of lawmakers in Congress are millionaires, the median age is around 60, and women make up less than 30% of the U.S. House.
Moreover, of the 12,500 people who have served in Congress in U.S. history, fewer than 400 have been women. Congress needs more diverse voices, more people of color, more women and gender expanding people, more working-class people. When I’m out meeting voters in IL-07, a working-class, plurality Black, majority-women, and disproportionately young district, people are excited by the prospect of electing someone who looks like them. I am a Black, millennial woman from a working-class family on the West Side and when I’m in Congress, those identities and my lived experiences will inform the votes that I take and the causes that I fight for to bring equity.
What is the most pressing issue facing your constituents and how do you plan on addressing it?
Gun violence is the most pressing issue facing our district. The people of Chicago have been sold a lie that a city free of gun violence is not possible — but it is. Every year, we lose hundreds of lives to gun violence in Chicago and 40,000 across the country. I see each of these as a death that we could have prevented. I am an expert in this space: I am a survivor of everyday gun violence, I led the largest gun violence prevention non-profit in the state of Illinois, and I served on the Biden-Harris transition team’s task force on gun violence.
The gun violence epidemic is a public policy failure, and ending it will require policy solutions on the federal level. This includes legislation that would introduce universal background checks, raising the legal age to purchase firearms, and an assault rifle ban. But it also means striking 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.
What specific steps would you take to ensure your office is accessible and responsive to your constituents?
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, whether that is through phone banks to constituents or knocking on doors. I will host a town hall in the district at least once a month and hold listening sessions on the key issues and legislation we are voting on in Congress. And in my first 100 days, I will form a healthcare and life expectancy task force to address the inequality in the district and start working to reduce the 30 year life expectancy gap between Downtown and Englewood.