Kina Collins is running for Congress to change the status quo in Washington, DC

The 2022 midterm elections are fast approaching. In our new series teen vogueTop 10we ask candidates 10 questions on the topics that matter most to our readers, including student debt and climate change, plus a few additional questions for fun.

Kina Collins is a candidate to represent Illinois’ 7th District in the United States House of Representatives. The 31-year-old gun violence prevention advocate tells us how witnessing a murder changed her life, why President Biden deserves a ‘B’ grade in his job and being a Stan Amanda Gorman.

1. What specific actions would you take in response to the climate crisis if elected?

Overall, scientists agree that we are rapidly running out of time to deal with the climate crisis. We need bigger and bolder action. That’s why I would sign on as a co-sponsor of the Green New Deal. We need wartime-level mobilization to transition to 100% clean, renewable energy, while creating well-paying jobs and ensuring this transition is reserved for frontline workers and communities.

Young people are fighting this fight because we understand that we cannot afford not to. We are literally fighting for our survival.

2. How would you rate Joe Biden’s performance in office? Why?

I would give President Biden a B for his first year and a half. I think there were a lot of things he did well. He made an effort to listen to affected communities on key issues. I served on the Biden-Harris Transition Team Task Force for Gun Violence Prevention, and we introduced legislation to the administration to address the gun violence epidemic. And he followed through on many elements of the legislative program that we recommended and he continued to listen to the community. But I want to see the president act more aggressively on issues like student debt, climate change and voting rights. We voted for Biden’s full agenda and now we want to see him fight for it.

3. What advice would you give to your teenager?

Don’t talk about what other people think and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Everyone tries to understand life too.

4. In 2020, young voters turned out in large numbers for the Democrats. They then pushed lawmakers to remain accountable to their campaign promises, many of which have failed to materialize. Why should young people stay engaged in 2022?

The last two years have been frustrating. Let’s be clear about why Democrats hold the Senate, House, and White House: Black people, black women in particular, and young people came out in droves. We have done what we had to do, but we still see inaction. Some Democrats actively sabotaged the Democratic agenda, while others sat idly by and watched it crumble.

To me, it’s clear that we need more Democrats in Congress who will actually fight for the working class, people who will fight for abortion rights and fight for climate justice, and a health care system stronger for all. I’m running against someone who’s been a congressman since I was five because the status quo in Washington isn’t working. We need new faces, new energy, more urgency and creative ideas in Congress. We need leaders who will show up for their communities, and who won’t let them down. I’m excited for 2022 because there are inspiring candidates running across the country who will make Washington work better for all of us.

5. What is your guilty pleasure in pop culture?

The Real Housewives series on Bravo. I love ATL’s OG seasons, but recently Potomac really got the mission.

6. What is your plan to deal with the student debt crisis?

We must now cancel all student debt and President Biden has the power to do so. Student loan debt is crushing millions of Americans and even preventing people from getting off to a good start. I also believe that our public colleges, universities, and professional programs should all be free. No one should go into debt to go to school or learn a new job. The student debt crisis is also contributing to America’s racial wealth gap. Twenty years after starting their studies, the debt of the average white borrower has been reduced by 94 percent. Meanwhile, black borrowers still owe, on average, 95% of their debt. It is unacceptable. Biden ran on it. He has the power to deliver it. Let’s do that.

7. To what extent do you specifically engage young people in your campaign?

My campaign is fueled by young people who are ready and excited for new leadership in our district. The youth climate powerhouse, Sunrise Movement, has approved the campaign — both the national organization and the local centres. Young people are knocking on doors, calling voters and even volunteering their time to make campaign videos. Every day they inspire me to push harder and keep fighting. We are placing young people in leadership roles in my campaign.

About Michael S. Montanez

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