#childsafety | South Kingstown Election Profile: Abel Collins

SOUTH KINGSTOWN, RI — Abel Collins is running for the South Kingstown Town Council. The 42-year-old Democrat has served on the council since 2014.

Collins has been the co-owner and project manager at Sol Power for the past three years. He has a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s of public administration, both from Brown University. Collins and his wife, Amber, have five children: Eve, Abel, Ezra Moses, Asa and Merribee.


Campaign website

Why are you seeking elective office?

Public service runs in my family. My mom was a public defender and served on the SK School Committee for a decade. My dad was a town planner, who served on the planning board. They inspired a love of justice and civic responsibility in me that I hope I will pass onto my children. I am running for office because I am deeply committed to this community. I want it to be on a sustainable path towards a thriving future for the coming generations. It has been the honor of my life to serve on the Council, and we have accomplished much, from clean energy initiatives to protecting civil rights and maintaining our public schools. In a time of crisis, I feel even more determined to ensure our town meets the challenges of the moment and is in a position to prosper into the future.

What do you believe should be done to contain the coronavirus pandemic, and what would you do to lessen its economic impacts?

Wearing masks, keeping social distance, limiting indoor contact. We can work with small businesses to find creative ways to make their operations safer and more accessible to customers. We can help give the public confidence that our community is safe.

Do you believe systemic racism is a problem in America generally and Rhode Island specifically, and if so, what would you do to combat it?

Yes systemic racism is a problem in America and in Rhode Island. The first step in combating can be listening to people of color who experience it firsthand. Recognizing and facing the history that came before us will help us move towards justice. At the town level something we can do is increasing the diversity of our boards and committees. Another is to encourage education and training for town employees that covers implicit bias and anti racism. When we know better we do better. Affordable housing is another area where systemic racism shows up and where we can do better.

Should the words “Providence Plantations” be removed from the state’s name?

Yes

What are the critical differences between you and the other candidates seeking this post?

My experience in the position is one difference. I have demonstrated my ability to run productive and civil meetings during my terms in office. My experience in policy making extends beyond my time in office, though. I have also helped craft State policies as an environmental advocate and as a policy analyst with the RI Senate. Aside from my work in the government and nonprofit spheres, I also bring the perspective of someone who has worked in the private sector as a small business owner. Being able to look through these different lenses is useful in understanding the many varied issues that come before us as a Council.

Describe the other issues that define your campaign platform

Promoting affordable housing, good schools, environmental sustainability, coastal access, efficient budgeting, and ethical and transparent governance. Building connections and relationships with the University, pushing for “Complete Streets” which are safe for pedestrians, cyclists, and public transit riders as well as drivers, let’s leave no stone unturned in the effort to improve life in SK!

What accomplishments in your past would you cite as evidence you can handle this job?

As a municipal official, I served on the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Task Force and helped to develop a data driven action plan for meeting the emissions targets set by the Resilient Rhode Island Act. The RI League of Cities and Towns asked me to present at their orientation for municipal leaders, and Common Cause invited me to present on best practices for remote governance. Before my time on the Town Council, I was a presenter on the topic of transportation reform at Netroots Nation, the RI League of Cities and Town’s annual conference, and the RI Coalition for Transportation Choices’s conferences. During my time with the RI Sierra Club, I served on the executive leadership committee of the Environment Council of RI, and I helped found the RIPTA Riders Transportation Alliance. Over the years, I’ve developed a deep understanding of how government does work, and how it could work better.

The best advice ever shared with me was:

From my grandmother- “Keep your head when those about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you”

What else would you like voters to know about yourself and your positions?

The Clean Energy initiatives that I spearheaded will save the town millions of dollar in the coming years. We are now producing all of the municipality’s electricity needs from the solar panels which cover the old landfills in town. SK has also been a leader in pursuing municipal aggregation, and under my guidance we were one of the first adopters of CPACE, which is a program that local businesses have used to go solar and make energy efficiency improvements.


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