Another contender has tossed his hat into the ring in the race for Congressional District 2.
In addition to incumbent James Langevin, Democrat John Matson, Republicans Michael Gardiner and Michael Riley, and now Independent Abel Collins, are all vying for the second Congressional district seat. Collins officially announced his candidacy yesterday at a press conference at the State House.
“It’s not about Langevin,” said Collins, who explained his reason for running. “Langevin does a capable job.”
Collins said he is seeking office because of his issues with the two-party system that’s governing the country.
“Democrats and Republicans are…catering to Wall Street to reign,” he said.
Collins, a 33-year-old Matunuck resident, said he was part of the Occupy Providence Movement. Although he didn’t camp at Burnside Park, he helped organize various Occupy protests and said he is still part of the movement.
Collins has never run for or held a political office before. He said he’s bypassing running for a local office because he likes his local representatives.
“And the issues I’m interested in addressing…are not controlled at the state level,” he said.
Despite his lack of political experience, Collins said his work with advocacy and volunteerism has prepared him for a political career. Collins is the program manager for Rhode Island’s Sierra Club, an organization that works to preserve the environment and create green jobs and energy sources.
At his press conference yesterday, Collins laid out the bullet points of his political platform. Collins’ main policy points zero in on financial reform, fair trade, green works and taking the money out of politics.
Collins said he wants the financial system and in turn the Federal Reserve to be more accountable to the general public. Collins said he wants to ensure that fraud is prosecuted and RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) Act violators are held accountable. But Collins admits to being skeptical he can incite major changes.
“Prosecution isn’t going to happen because nothing happens in Washington,” he said. “The partisan atmosphere in Washington makes it impossible for any legislation to pass. Any bills they manage to pass don’t help the public.”
As a major advocate of green works, Collins plans to weave his passion for clean energy and green jobs into his campaign platforms. Collins plans to revitalize the agricultural industry and is hoping for a federal farm bill. He is also a proponent of using Rhode Island’s natural resources to re-stimulate the state’s stagnating economy. By growing green energy sources, like solar and wind farms, and building infrastructure for additional mass transit systems, Collins said the state would grow jobs while being environmentally friendly.
Collins is also a big advocate of fair trade.
“Not free trade,” he said. “It leads to terrible working conditions and pollution.”
Collins said the offshore industries that mass-produce goods are essentially enslaving employees. He plans to impose a penalty on goods imported by such manufacturers in order to discourage unhealthy work environments and encourage corporations to bring manufacturing jobs back to the U.S.
“This is obviously not going to be a big thing with corporations,” he said. “But we’re not going to the corporate vote.”
Big business and fiscal responsibility are hot button issues for Collins, who plans to weave campaign finance reform into his overall message.
“The way we finance elections determines who controls out politics,” writes Collins on his website.
Collins said he is looking to ensure publicly funded elections, ensuring politicians cater to the people, not to major corporate donors.
Collins hopes to raise $100,000 to hire a campaign manager and part-time staffers, although he said his campaign would be mostly volunteer-driven. So far, Collins has raised about $250 because “people have just given [him] money.”
Collins said he would really love to see an independent run in the first congressional district but for now is supporting incumbent David Cicilline.
“The Republican agenda [candidate Brendan] Doherty would have to tow the line of is dangerous,” he said. “It’s putting us closer and closer to a third world country.”
Although he is opposed to the Republican agenda, he does believe that both parties need to be “cleaned out.”
“I want to break down the barriers for others to run,” he said. “If you have a good message, you can get somewhere. I want to empower people. I view it as a civics lesson, not only for others, but for myself.”
Learn more about Abel Collins by visiting www.electabel2012.com.