The Missouri Times is speaking to new lawmakers this session. Get to know more of the “Freshmen to Watch” here.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Rep. Kimberly Ann Collins can name every neighborhood in her district — and there are quite a few. She has lived in HD 77 her entire life, and the pride she feels in the people and communities that make up the heart of north St. Louis shines when she talks about it.
“It’s a loving district,” Collins told The Missouri Times. “It’s not a segregated district, it’s very loving.”
Before stepping up to represent the seat once occupied by now Sen. Steven Roberts, Collins worked in the health field and volunteered for a number of organizations focused on the unhoused.
She was so involved in her community that “people thought [she] was the state representative before” even getting into politics, she said.
Collins first ran against Roberts in 2018, losing by only 365 votes. But when Roberts ran for Senate in 2020, Collins saw an opportunity.
The issue of homelessness is one that she hopes to emphasize in her time in office.
“What made me run is literally being an advocate for the unhoused but knowing that we have greater issues than just homelessness in our area,” Collins said. “I looked at politics, I looked at our city government, and I wanted to know who was literally fighting for our unhoused.”
Upon getting to the legislature, Collins has wasted no time getting to work on her priorities. HB 1411, which Collins is sponsoring, recently passed out of the Agriculture Policy Committee with a unanimous vote. The bill would address food insecurity and food deserts in urban areas, according to Collins.
“We either got vacant buildings, or we got vacant lots. And so I want to be able to focus on having full service grocery stores — being able to utilize some of our vacant lots for urban farming,” Collins said.
Bi-partisan efforts such as that is what excites Collins most about her tenure as a member of the House.
She told The Missouri Times that “being able to have personal one-on-ones with people across the aisle” is her favorite thing about working in state government.
“I’m able to go into people’s offices and have one-on-one conversations with them and teach them the value of my culture, teach them the value of where I come from,” Collins said.
Conner Kerrigan is a writer and communications professional who lives in Columbia. He joined The Missouri Times team as the business manager in late 2020. Originally from Chicago, Conner is a graduate of Millikin University in Decatur.
Contact Conner at email@example.com.