The 7th Congressional District covers a wide area of Cook County from western suburbs like Oak Park, to parts of the West Side and stretching all the way to the Chicago lakefront.
U.S. Rep. Danny K. Davis has represented the district since 1997. Now, candidate Kina Collins is looking to change that. Last week, she came to Columbia College Chicago, which is part of the district, to explain why she wants to end Davis’ longtime reign.
“…We need to elect more women and more black women into office, quite frankly,” Collins said. “Number two, I believe that the voices of working-class people are not being fulfilled and are not being represented in Congress. Number three, Congressman Davis has taken hundreds of thousands of dollars in corporate PAC money.”
Through a phone call interview, Davis responded to Collins’ statement by saying she has a “creative imagination” and is “a dishonest person, unfortunately.”
“I’ve been in public office for about 24 years. She adds up all the contributions in 24 years so it appears that way, but it couldn’t be the furthest from the truth,” Davis said. “I have raised less corporate money than any elected official in Illinois.”
Davis also cast doubt Collins’ role in helping to pass the Illinois Council on Women and Girls Act. “She worked on legislation with Senator Jackie Collins and I guess because her name was Collins, also, she thought she did,” Davis said. “How did you pass a bill if you’ve never been elected? I mean, that’s a little far-fetched, don’t you think?”
Kina Collins has said on her campaign website and in 2020 voter guide that she co-authored and helped shape the legislation in the Illinois House that led to the Illinois Council on Women and Girls Act that was signed into law by Gov. Bruce Rauner in August 2018. According to the act, the council is responsible for advising the governor and general assembly on policy issues impacting women and girls. Kina Collins was the inaugural chair of the council, according to her website.
Collins, 31, grew up in the Austin neighborhood of Chicago and refers to herself as an expert in her community. “This primary cycle, we have out fundraised Congressman Davis with all small dollar individual donors. Forty percent of our fundraising is coming from people within the district,” Collins said.
Collins spoke to the “Innovation and Impact: Defending Democracy” class, taught by Professor Sharon Bloyd-Peshkin, on April 11. “We’ve been learning all about voter suppression and voting rights advocacy, but voters also need to have a sense of what it means to vote for someone. I realized that my students probably have never met a real candidate, and that doing so would help ‘close the circle’ of what voting is about,” Bloyd-Peshkin said.
Student Haley Wells found a greater impact in hearing Collins speak verses researching her policies online. “Knowing that there’s options, like you can go listen to people in local elections speak and stuff like that has definitely changed my mind about wanting to vote and participate in local elections,” Wells said.
The primary for the election takes place on June 28 with the general election to be held on Nov. 8.
Collins expressed her passion to fund her campaign not by big corporations, but from the people in her district along with political action committees such as Justice Democrats.
“People who fund your campaign are the people who really have the power. So, if you’re being funded by voters in your area, you listen to what they have to say, because they’re the ones that’s keeping you in your seat,” Collins said.
Collins left the students with a final note on the importance of voting. She admitted she felt lack of faith in the government since so many resources were unavailable to her in the Austin neighborhood. That’s why working with her community to create the Illinois Council on Women and Girls Act gave her hope for actual policy change.
“Everything’s legislative. So that’s why you should participate in democracy,” Collins said. “[If] You don’t make decisions, someone will make them for you.”