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Collins to run for reelection despite financial, health challenges
House District 95 State Representative Toney Collins (D, Conyers)

State Representative Toney Collins (D, Conyers, District 95) described going through health and financial difficulties, including foreclosure, in recent years, but said he plans to run for reelection in a conversation with the News on Friday morning.

Collins, who was elected in 2008 to District 95 (which covers the northern portion of Rockdale County, northern parts of Newton County, and southern portions of Gwinnett County), said he underwent a kidney transplant in 1999. Since then, the one-time real estate agent said he had been receiving disability payments until last year, when he began his term as a representative.

He said being on disability limited his ability to make money - he was allowed to make up to $700 a month and remain on disability - and that the payments did not cover the cost of his adjustable rate mortgage.

"It's hard to pay a note with only $1800 a month when you have a $2000 note."

He pointed out being a representative paid less than being on disability - legislators reportedly receive about $17,300 a year, in addition to a $7,000 annual expense account.

When asked about his foreclosure, he said "I'm not going to comment on my personal stuff."

Court documents show his previous five-bedroom residence at 2510 Meadowmist Place, in the Oakes at Brentwood subdivision, was sold to the Deutsch Bank National Trust Company in May 2009 for $133,833.

He said he was now living at 1640 Ellington Road in Conyers, just around the corner from his foreclosed residence.

Collins said he had been on and off dialysis since his transplant and was doing better but had to go through foreclosure in the process.

"You've got a lot of people losing their homes due to illness they can't do anything about," he said, adding that representing those voices was one of the things that motivated him to run in 2008 and 2004.

"That's all I'm working for," he said. "We are just servants to the people."

Collins previously ran unsuccessfully in 2004 for the District 43 State Senate seat, currently held by Sen. Ronald Ramsey.

In previous interviews on the campaign trail with the Covington News, Collins promised to have an open-door policy for his constituents if elected that would include many town hall meetings and an up-to-date legislative Web site. Collins did not participate in candidate forums and debates he was invited to in Newton and Rockdale counties during the 2008 election. He did make an appearance at the November 2009 pre-legislative forum with other Rockdale state delegates.