One on One with 1st Congressional District Candidate, IL Senator Jacqui Collins

Illinois State Senator Jacqueline “Jacqui” Collins has represented the 16th district since 2003. As a state legislator, she has supported a progressive agenda to create economic and social welfare policies that reduce inequality, expand opportunity and strengthen communities.

As State Senator, Collins has used her role on the Senate Financial Institutions Committee to ensure the passage of legislation that protects Illinois consumers and their families. She has played a key role in addressing predatory lending and high foreclosure rates in Chicago through legislation that protects homebuyers and homeowners with subprime mortgages. Collins has advanced legislation to teach financial literacy in schools and laws that keep homeowners in their homes during tough times and strengthen renters’ rights.

Some of her major legislative accomplishments include the historic Predatory Loan Prevention Act and the Illinois Community Reinvestment Act, the Mortgage Rescue Fraud Act, the landmark Sudan Divestment Act and the 2005 Payday Loan Reform Act. In addition to serving on the Senate Financial Institutions Committee, she sits on the Transportation and Criminal Law committees.

Senator Collins is now running for Congresswoman in the Illinois 1st District Congressional race. Running on a platform rooted in justice, Senator Collins spoke with the Chicago Defender about her positions on critical issues and why she believes she is the best candidate to represent the 1st District.

Chicago Defender: Senator Collins, what do you believe are the most pressing issues facing Black People in Illinois right now?

Senator Collins:  If you talk to most African Americans across the country, not just in Illinois, they are concerned about the lack of employment, the economy, job opportunities, and the flow of guns into urban communities.

Chicago Defender:  How Do we create Wealth Building Communities?

Senator Collins:  We see many of our communities decimated by the lack of resources, but this is decades and decades in the making. Part of my role and my passion when I was Chair of financial institutions was to close the wealth gap between Black and white communities. And to that extent, I want to look at all the racial structures that have stifled the economic growth within the Black community. That is one of the reasons why I went after payday lenders and their high-interest rates. We know there is always a “Black Tax” in the African American community.

That is why I wanted to push forward and pass historic legislation to cap all interest and stop all predatory lending in the State of Illinois because so many families get caught up in a cycle of debt.

Home Ownership is important as well. I want to keep people in their homes and during the financial crisis or foreclosure crisis of 2008, I fought to keep individuals in their homes, forcing banks not to evict or foreclose without giving the families an opportunity for a loan modification. What I’ve done with this legislation was to put in place what we call “The Illinois CRA Community Reinvestment Act” which is modeled off of the Federal CRA. However, we know the federal CRA is not working, because many of those entities, the banks, and financial institutions fair housing and regulations yet they are able to maintain satisfactory ratings. In the Illinois CRA, I added that unless they fulfill their mission, and serve the communities in which they’re located, we will work with the Illinois State Treasurer to ensure that we prevent any public funds from going into those financial institutions. That’s the only way we can hold them accountable. We know that wealth is built up in a community with home ownership. And over the years, these financial institutions have stripped billions and billions of dollars out of our communities, either through contract buying or redlining.

Chicago Defender: As Congresswoman, how would you bring economic engines into the community?

Senator Collins:  I want to bring economic development as well to bring anchors into the community. That’s why I’ve worked for over 10 years to reopen a Metra Station right off of 79th and Halsted. It was long overdue. Our communities should have access to downtown and suburban areas where we can travel in safety. I also wanted to ensure it created jobs as well so I sat down with the company that’s going to do the contracting, and I made it paramount that we have adequate representation, and minority participation, and that we would be hiring within the Auburn Gresham community.

Chicago Defender:  One of the things that you’ve said throughout your campaign is that your entire political career has been rooted in justice. As we have these conversations about criminal justice reform, and public safety, the public wants those who do our communities harm to be accountable, be held accountable but at the same time, we have to address the inequities in the system as Congresswoman, how would you balance the two?

Senator Collins: Well, I think I will do what we get here in Illinois or take that model. I was proud to be a co-sponsor of the reimagine Public Safety Act. We know that crime is the result of a failure to invest right? We don’t need the failed policies of the past. What we need is mental health treatment. We need reentry jobs for those formerly incarcerated coming back into our community, so they don’t fall back into the pattern of criminal activity. We also need youth prevention programs established.

In Illinois, we put in over $246 million in programs under the Office of Violence Prevention. This affords us to have multi-year programming for our youth. I think you have to have a holistic approach. I think what’s important is that we don’t want the fear-mongering to take over where we over incarcerate our young men because that’s what has destabilized our communities.

We have to invest in communities. It means money. Nobody wants to deal with the reality that there is going to be a cost to solving this. If we just take a minuscule amount of the money that’s going to Ukraine and invest it here in these communities, what would we be able to accomplish? We have the money. It’s just a matter of our priorities and how we define whether or not as a society, we’re going to take this issue seriously. I will be fighting to make sure monies and resources come back to the communities that deserve the support, to uplift our children to give them hope, and the belief and the opportunity that they can move beyond Inglewood or Auburn Gresham, or any other disenfranchised community.

Chicago Defender:  This is an extremely divisive Congress. Do you think there’s a fine line between reaching across the aisle versus digging in your heels and fighting for your ideals against the GOP?

Senator Collins: I’m running as a progressive, a proven progressive. I’m going to hold the Democratic Party’s feet to the fire and push that they fight as hard and strong on the issues and the principles on which they profess to stand. I’m willing to negotiate and work across the aisle, if people are open, to have a conversation, an honest conversation, but not to allow them to devalue what I’m bringing to the table and get me to change the principles of which I’m fighting and standing on, there’s a line that I will not cross. I don’t believe in compromising your values.

You compromise on issues that might get you where you want to go in the long term but not at the expense of the principles in which you’re fighting for.

Chicago Defender:  Do you think the potential Supreme Court ruling on Roe Vs. Wade is indicative of what’s to come when we talk about voting rights and other civil rights and liberties Americans have?

Senator Collins:  I believe so because really, what Roe vs Wade is about is the destruction of our privacy rights. So, this is just the beginning, but we should have seen it coming. The Democrats should have seen it coming. So yes, the bedrock of our democracy is being dismantled state by state starting with Voter Suppression. We see the rise and resurgence of white supremacy and I think this is just the start. Next, they will begin attacking marriage equality. We have to be vigilant, and we have to be ready to fight back on all levels including city, county, state, and federal and it’s going to take everyone.

Chicago Defender:  You also have a passion for women’s issues and women’s rights. Can you speak about some of the things that you put in place as a state senator, as it relates to the protection of women’s rights, and specifically the protection of Black women?

Senator Collins:  Yes. As a Black woman, this is a passion of mine. I was amazed at the lack of coverage that missing Black women and girls received so I set up an Illinois Human Trafficking Task Force to focus primarily on the disparities in the investigations of missing Black women and girls. I also initiated another task force to deal with the racism in the healthcare industry, specifically looking into the high rate of infant and maternal mortality of Black women.

Mentorship is also important to me as well and I wanted to mentor young women to help them gain or understand their agency, so I created the Illinois Council of Women and Girls. Young girls apply from across the state, and they are introduced to the policy arena. I’ve been a champion for women at the forefront of issues that really impact them.

Chicago Defender:  What makes you the best candidate for the Illinois 1st District?

Senator Collins:  I named my campaign, “Jacqui for Justice” because my campaign is rooted in economic, social, and racial justice. I’m running to give justice a seat at the policy table in Washington, DC. I am not running on rhetoric. I’m not running on promises. I’m running on a record of legislative accomplishments. I’m running to ensure that we continue to lift up and fight for what we know is the right thing to do. I have always based my campaigns on Dr. King’s mantra. I have the audacity to believe that people everywhere deserve education and culture for their mind’s dignity and quality and freedom for their spirits, and freedom as we move forward. No one in this race has a track record of legislative accomplishments. No one in this race has passed landmark legislation more than I have.

That’s why I’m running. I’m running to ensure that we have good-paying, dependable jobs, access to healthcare, and safe places to live. I’m qualified, credentialed, and experienced.

For more on Illinois Senator Jacqui Collins Congressional campaign, visit her website at


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