Kina Collins

Eight elected officials, including four village government officials from Oak Park and River Forest, have endorsed congressional hopeful and Austin native Kina Collins in her campaign to represent Illinois’s 7th district, which includes most of River Forest, all of Oak Park and much of the West Side. 

“It’s super exciting. For the campaign, we launched in May 2019 and everyone thought it’d be impossible to be at this point,” Collins said.

Oak Park Village Trustees Susan Buchanan and Arti Walker-Peddakotla and River Forest Village Trustees Patty Henek and Erika Bachner account for four of the elected officials who have given their endorsement to Collins.

“I’ve organized, I’ve built coalitions across the state and I’ve also passed legislation,” Collins said. “It was time for me to run for office.”

Collins co-authored the Illinois Council on Women and Girls Act, a piece of legislation that protects the rights of women and girls. The bill passed in 2017 and was created after the dissolution of the White House Council on Women and Girls by the Trump administration.

State Representative Anna Moeller of the 43rd district, who sponsored the Illinois Council on Women and Girls Act, has also endorsed Collins in her congressional run.

Additional endorsements include District 90 school board member Katie Avalos and Dr. Jackie Moore, District 200 school board president and Jeannette Taylor, Chicago’s 20th Ward alderwoman.

“I have a personal relationship with each of them, I’ve spoken with them, I’ve worked with them, some of them I’ve organized with and so this was really a labor of love,” Collins said of her endorsers. “We’re super excited about what’s getting ready to happen by these elected officials working with our campaign to get across the finish line on March 17 [the Democratic primary election].”

Anthony Clark, an Oak Park and River Forest High School teacher and activist, and Kristine Schanbacher are running against Collins in the Democratic primary. But her biggest competition in the primary is incumbent Danny Davis, who has represented the 7th district since 1997.

“We’ve been completely focused on the incumbent. He’s the one with a 22-year track record. He’s also the one with the most name recognition,” Collins said. “Our campaign is definitely focused on targeting some of the issues and spotlighting some of the issues in Illinois 7th that Danny Davis has lacked the attention to take care of.”

Collins is championing such issues as healthcare, gun violence and criminal justice reform – all of which have affected the district’s less affluent communities.

“I am a daughter of this district, born and raised in the Austin community on the westside of Chicago in a district that’s 85 percent Democrat, overwhelmingly working class, 70 percent people of color,” she said. “I believe that this district deserves a working-class champion.”