What's in a name? For Paul Collins, everything.
"I am my Father's son," says Collins of his adoptive father Albert Collins. Paul remembers him fondly. It did not matter that he was a doorman or that he only had a 4th grade education. He was in every sense of the word, a man.
"He was and is my hero. He fed me. He clothed me. He gave me his name."
Abandoned as an infant, Collins saw and experienced things that no child should have. Despite his unfortunate beginning, Collins's resolve was not weakened. He persevered and his life's experiences have made him into the man he is today -- a man of truth, justice, integrity, and honor.
Albert and Evelyn Collins nurtured, raised, and encouraged Paul to respect his elders, give back to the community, develop a heart of service, and an attitude of gratitude. It is these types of principles Paul Collins wants to bring to the 9th Ward as a structural foundation to build upon. Collins loves a challenge. He chuckles as he recalls his father's unending question, "Is this the best you can do?" Today, he would answer there is so much more for the 9th Ward that is yet to be done. Collins wants to rebuild the 9th Ward and restore it to its place of prominence in the City of Chicago. Collins continues to build upon the framework of his father. Collins firmly believes "a father is the foundation to a family and to a community." Sure, he has a list of accolades behind his name, but Collins will tell you in a heartbeat his most important accomplishment to date is his role as a father to his 11-year-old twin sons. Collins served his country as a sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps in the Intelligence Unit. He served for six years including during Desert Storm. He has been employed with the U. S. Postal Service, working his way through the ranks from postal supervisor to working four years in the U.S. Postal Inspection Service during the 9/11 attacks. He currently serves as a police officer with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago-a position he has held for the last 14 years.
"It's unfortunate that more good people don't have the courage to run for office, said Collins".
Collins has an abundant supply of courage, tenacity and determination. He's prepared to fight for more businesses for the 9th Ward. He's prepared to speak up for seniors that need the convenience of food, shelter, medical services and transportation. He's prepared to seek out alternatives in education like nano-technology and positive extracurricular activities other than just sports for youth.
It's time our children were given the necessary tools to compete in the world arena. "We fall off because we don't think about teaching our youth," says Collins.
A graduate of Hales Franciscan High School, and earned a BA from Chicago State University Collins touts education often and in addition to his parents, credits his eighth grade teacher and the Franciscan Friars with his well-rounded perspective of life.
Indeed, it was with helping a young man get on the right path that Collins's passion for civic engagement was birthed. "When I helped a young man get back into school, I realized that this is what I wanted to do." Collins soon after founded the non-for-profit organization We Are A Village. He also serves on the Board of Directors of Hope for a Better Tomorrow which brings "Manhood 101" to communities in Chicago.
You can best believe Collins is ready to put the work in and he is not squeamish about hard work. Most of all he believes in the people of the 9th Ward. Credit must be given to where it is due. We are a government for the people and by the people. "The positions are not ours, we are voted in to represent the people's interest. I believe in transparency and honesty. What you see is what you get and if I give you my word that I will do it, I am going to do it."
For such a time as this. Collins--the champion for children and senior rights and a voice for the underrepresented and the unrepresented. Collins is running on what he terms the P.E.A.C.E. platform: P for people; E for economics; A for action; C for civic engagement and E for education.
Many of you may be aware, but for those of you that are not, I am a law enforcement officer. I have had the opportunity of speaking with many of my fellow 9th Ward residents. One of the things they all seem to express is the desire to have more Officer Friendlys visible within the Ward. Officer Friendlys that are present before crimes are committed. The desire is to build and foster positive relationships between the community and the police and to decrease response times when crimes are committed. This is accomplished by having more police presence walking through the neighborhoods and riding their bikes through the neighborhoods.
Living in the 9th Ward for 24 years, Collins has seen the neighborhood change from a sprawling metropolis to block-after-block of blight stemming from boarded-up buildings, vacant lots, and vacant commercial storefront properties. Just like you, he is concerned about his property value, the safety of neighborhood children going to and from school near boarded-up buildings. Collins envisions a better tomorrow for 9th Ward-- one with walkable, holistic neighborhoods, nearby shopping, employment, healthcare and a variety of accessible transportation services.
Schools in 9th Ward experience persistent disparity in educational attainment from generation to generation. Every child should be able to receive a quality education and attend schools in the community in which they live. Our tax dollars dictate this! Collins would like to see a moratorium on all charter schools in the 9th Ward until Chicago public schools are afforded a level playing field.
It is time that we take a long in depth look at the plans for the "Red Line Extension and how it affects the residents of the 9th Ward directly and indirectly. The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) is proposing to extend the Red Line from the existing terminal at 95th/Dan Ryan to 130th Street, subject to the availability of funding. The proposed 5.3-mile extension would include four new stations near 103rd Street, 111th Street, Michigan Avenue, and 130th Street. We also need to address the lack of busing from Altgeld Gardens to 95th Street and destinations beyond, such as Walmart and the Pullman Community Center.
I would not be a hindrance to positive businesses opening in the 9th ward. I would whole heartily encourage entrepreneurship. We want to ensure that these businesses can supply the residents with their daily necessities, products, services, and/or jobs. I have spoken to many of the already established business owners in the 9th ward, their complaints have mostly been the lack of revitalization in the area. This goes hand in hand with the crime; we fix one and we fix the other. Three points of revitalization from my administration will be the 95th St., 103rd St., and the Roseland Michigan Avenue Corridors. The Altgeld Gardens, Golden Gate, Concordia, and the Riverdale communities will no longer be ignored. We must address the Food Deserts/Food Swamps and devise a plan to overcome this.
P. (PEOPLE) The people of the 9th Ward should have a say as to how their tax dollars are spent and what type of businesses come into their neighborhoods. Aldermen have a 1.3 million dollar budget called the "Aldermanic Menu". This menu was designed to allow constituents to participate in its development. Currently, there is no constituent involvement in the development of the 9th Ward Aldermanic Menu. We should be involved. Our government is a democracy, not a hierarchy!
E. (Economics) Evidence of a strong community is a strong foundation. A strong foundation is where its residents have a vested interest as both homeowners and business owners. Vested interest in a community means a respect for the community. A vested interest is essential in order to maintain the viability of our community. To do less would mean a sacrifice and a loss of the community's voice in creating its own change.
A. (Action) The Universal Law of Cause and Effect states that "for every cause there is an effect." For example a rock dropped In a body of water will have a rippling effect. The same is true for the actions of one 9th Ward resident choosing to pay it forward by picking up litter in her neighbor's yard and placing it in a trash receptacle rather than on the ground. Or maybe witnessing an offensive behavior or action in your neighborhood and reporting it. What offends one offends all. So, by not turning a blind eye to little actions such as these brings a community together, and selfless acts like these strengthen it.
C. (Civic Engagement) It is of paramount importance that we the 9th ward began to take control of the levers of power that control our economic stability. How is that accomplished? We must vote! We must engage! We must let our voices be heard! We must take action! As Nelson Mandela said : “ Vision without action is just a dream, Action without vision just passes the time, and vision with action can change the world.” So let’s start with the 9th Ward.
E. (Education) I am a huge proponent of education. Every student is not college material and that is okay. College is not the only place where people can be educated. There are other choices such as trades and technology. The goal is for every responsible adult to be able to legitimately provide for their families and themselves.