Collins, who performs contract budgeting work for various school systems and hosts a radio show on WYXC, is a Cartersville resident, and he is running as a Republican. The decision to seek public office, he said, came after much thought, urging from friends and examining the other candidates.
“Well, you know what, it’s time. ... People have said about the current dysfunctional establishment, dysfunctional positions and polarizing positions, and a lot of people who value and respect me in the community, they said, ‘Hayden, you’ve got to run.’ We talked it over for a few months,” Collins said. “Believe me, this was a few months coming along, and once we’d seen the cast of players that were up there and, you know, I’m not part of a generation who’s retiring. I’m not part of a generation who’s part of an establishment. I’m not drawing Social Security. So it’s one of those things where we need somebody from us who can run. I said, ‘All right, I’m in.’”
Collins said his background, which includes working in nuclear power, serving in the military and assisting school systems across the nation draw up 20-year forecasting budgets will serve him well if he is elected. He also went through a period of unemployment, which be believes helps him understand the needs of District 11 constituents and how decisions made in Washington, D.C., affect them.
“The entire environment in Washington has to change because what we have right now you see the polarization that’s taking place — even on the news every day — and what these guys have failed to realize is there’s only two parties,” Collins said. “There’s nobody else to take responsibility here. It’s not a Democrat problem. It’s not a Republican problem. It’s an American problem.
“So what I want to take up there is ... I want to be able to build drives and relationships to bring forth solutions that will avoid polarization because who’s going to say, ‘Hey, don’t listen to that guy — he was unemployed. Don’t listen to that guy; he hasn’t walked in your shoes.’ I’m going to be able to bring something very unique to Washington, D.C., and that’s going to be ‘OK, I’m one of the people who are suffering because of you guys.’”
With Collins’ candidacy, the number of candidates seeking to fill Gingrey’s former seat has reached nine. Republicans Bob Barr, Susan Davis, Allan Levene, Ed Lindsay, Barry Loudermilk, Larry Mrozinski and Tricia Pridemore are looking for the Republican nomination in addition to Collins, whereas Patrick Thompson is the lone Democrat in the race.
The top issues for Collins are the economy, health insurance and education. The last subject is one he feels strongly about, saying education in America needs additional investment.
“There’s got to be capital investment in education and the key thing in this whole thing is let the teachers teach,” he said. “We bog them down in testing and testing and testing and testing and teaching for the test to the point to where people who are passionate about teaching are walking away from the job. It’s not like you go into teaching to make money. ... You do it because you have a passion and we’re destroying that passion. We have to unleash that passion again and let the teachers teach.”
As for Common Core, which has been the subject of debate on local levels and in local elections, Collins said it would likely go away within a few years.
“Common Core’s going to disappear because the government has to change programs every two to four years to keep those people employed. So another two years down the road it’s not going to be Common Core, it’s going to be Educate Us, or Food and Education, whatever you want to call it it’s just another misguided testing program from the Department of Education shoved down to all the schools and they say here’s some funding to make it work. ... The most consistent thing you can see with the Department of Education is abandonment of their older programs to create newer ones just so they can be employed,” he said.
In addition to his varied background and experiences, Collins and his wife, Sandra, has worked as foster parents for a number of years. He said they have fostered more than 150 children and a number of them are now in serving in the military. One of his sons, he added, is now patrolling the border in Texas. Having such a large number of children with different backgrounds and ethnicities is one way Collins highlighted his ability to work with different groups of people. Working with Republican or Democrat school systems across the nation, which have similar desires to education children in a safe environment, provides additional experience in fostering cooperation, Collins continued.
As for the campaign itself, Collins said he is receiving support from voters who once preferred other candidates.
“Yeah, in fact it’s been kind of exciting. I didn’t expect this. Usually when you start off a campaign when there are this many people in the race, you will see people going to their support and staying there. Well, we’re getting a lot of defectors,” Collins said. “We’re getting defectors from other campaigns. ‘Gosh, I’m glad you’re in now; I don’t have to support this old guy.’ Or, ‘Gosh, I’m glad you’re in now, I don’t have to support this polarization position.’ And people are sick and tired of polarization, so yeah, I’m getting really good positive feedback.”
Collins said he would be campaigning mostly on weekends as much as possible since he still works his day job. Looking forward, he said the biggest mission was to change the attitude in Washington and start finding ways to reduce the debt limit and not leave future generations with trillions of dollars in debt.
“If there was every anyone with an open mind who has experienced what they can worldwide to bring something different to the table, I’m your guy,” he said.
For more information on Collins, visit his website: www.haydenforthehouse.org.