I like solving problems. My first inclination is to listen and, when necessary, to speak deliberately and respectfully. I did very well in the South Kingstown schools, well enough to continue my studies at Brown University. But I doubt my teachers or classmates would have singled me out as someone who would one day run for political office or lead crowds of people to the State House, Washington, D.C., or New York City in pursuit of justice. I was the quiet-natured kid with curiosity filling me to understand life in all its myriad forms. I was the poet writing about the beauty of Matunuck and finding its reflection in the graces of humanity.

And yet, I have become an activist and a leader. In my shy silence, I was always paying attention, always taking note of the injustices and waste that hold our society back. Perhaps it was becoming a father which finally compelled me to speak up and demand change. There’s nothing like imagining my descendants and the world they will inherit to get me looking at the present with a long view. I saw – and still see – the unsustainable economic and political systems that we accept as “just the way it is.” I want to waste no time on bickering and no money on shortsightedness. There are better ways to govern and lead, ways that we can be more gentle with the planet and with one another and still thrive and be happy.

South Kingstown is already ahead of the curve when it comes to quality of life, and that is one of the reasons why I have chosen to stay. But we can do better. I want my children to make the choice to stay here, as I did. I want the plans we’ve already made with good projects like Healthy Places By Design to blossom and come to fruition in connected communities with sensible, affordable infrastructure. I see this future, and I am compelled to make it real.

With this ambition, I have already accomplished much. I have been at the forefront of Rhode Island’s efforts to address climate change and modernize the state’s transportation system. I helped successfully push for marriage equality and the end to the master lever. I’ve written legislation that would allow voters to amend Rhode Island’s Constitution to say corporations aren’t people and political campaign spending isn’t free speech. I’ve advocated for tax equity, investments in renewable energy and local agriculture. I ran for Congress in 2012 to raise the visibility of these issues and others at the federal level. These efforts are all part of creating a Rhode Island where we produce more of our own energy and food, while being better stewards of the planet, and with a more equitable and less corrupt society. The end result will be a better quality of life and a healthier, more resilient economy and environment.

Whatever success I have had in these endeavors, it has never been mine alone. My success emerges from the communities in which I work, like the grass from its roots. Most people share my vision of a sustainable and resilient society. We’d all like to live in a place with more harmony and less fear. South Kingstown is already closer to that ideal than most communities in the world. Let us go a step farther; let us lead by example. On Nov. 4, I invite you to vote for me and, if elected, I promise that I will work together with you to make it happen.

Abel Collins

Matunuck

The author is an independent candidate for South Kingstown Town Council.

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