Downers Grove leaders vying for 81st state House seat

Voters in the 81st state House District who saw their former representative step down after having "inappropriate online conversations" now get a chance to elect someone new.

Republican state Rep. David Olsen of Downers Grove is technically the incumbent, appointed July 30 to fill the seat vacated when former state Rep. Ron Sandack resigned.

Olsen, 28, has risen during the past five months from a Downers Grove village commissioner to an appointed College of DuPage trustee to vice president of the college's board to the state representative position. Now he says he wants to bring his experience building consensus and standing up for what's right to the state level long-term.

Democratic candidate Greg Hose is a Downers Grove village commissioner and attorney who says Sandack was "too extreme" in his conservative views, so the district needs someone who will take care of the middle class and grow the economy.

Hose, 35, says he wants to help tackle the state's financial problems while keeping in mind the needs of suburban workers and families in the 81st District, which includes all or parts of Downers Grove, Lisle, Naperville, Darien, Westmont, Woodridge and Bolingbrook.

When Sandack held the seat, he was floor leader of the House Republicans and considered an ally of Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner. Hose said Olsen's history of recent appointments indicates that he too has ties to Rauner and might not be fully independent.

"He (Rauner) was interested in David being appointed to the COD board," Hose said. "I wouldn't doubt that there was involvement in terms of his appointment to the state House."

Olsen says that's not the case.

"To the point that I'm beholden to the governor, I would say, well, with the College of DuPage, I never talked to the governor, and I never heard that he was interested until I read the paper," Olsen said.

When he was appointed to the 81st seat, Olsen said the process was handled by DuPage County Republican Chairman Brian Krajewski and Will County Republican Chairwoman Kathy Havel; he only heard from Rauner when the governor called afterward to congratulate him.

Hose says he would represent the district in Springfield with independence because he wasn't hand-picked to run by Democratic House Speaker Mike Madigan.

"I got into this because I feel there is a dramatic need for better leadership down in Springfield," Hose said. "That means someone who's got the best interests of the 81st District in mind."

Voters can choose between Hose and Olsen in the Nov. 8 election.

Greg Hose
David Olsen
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