83rd House Democratic primary candidates talk experience, gun control

Life experience may be the biggest difference between the two men seeking the Democratic nomination for the state House 83rd District.

Arad Boxenbaum is just 21. If elected, he would be the youngest legislator. He just obtained his bachelor's degree from DePaul University, lives with his parents in Geneva and has been working gig jobs for other politicians. But "I believe that (youth) to be a strength," Boxenbaum said during an interview with the Daily Herald.

He faces former Kane County Board member Matt Hanson, 49, of Aurora for the Democratic nomination. The winner of the June 28 primary will face Republican Rep. Keith Wheeler of Oswego in the general election in November.

Hanson is an engineer for the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad. Hanson has lived in Aurora for 20 years. He served a two-year term on the county board and the Kane County Forest Preserve Commission from 2018 to 2020. He has also served on the Aurora Historic Preservation Commission.

Boxenbaum, who has lived in Geneva for about three years, was elected to the Geneva Public Library board in 2021. He said he has worked on campaigns for a mayoral candidate in Crystal Lake and the presidential campaigns of Joseph Biden and Pete Buttigieg. He also did work for congressman Mike Quigley.

Why are they running?

Gun violence prevention is how Boxenbaum became involved in politics. He said he has never known a world without mass shootings at schools and the 2018 shooting in Parkland, Florida, was a catalyst.

"My peers and I, we were frustrated. We were upset," he said. So he and a friend organized a town-hall meeting at Stevenson High School in Buffalo Grove with politicians, including a congressman.

He said he is proud of the "F" grade the National Riflemen's Association gave him, even though he has applied for a FOID card and comes from a gun-owning family. He wants Illinois to ban high-capacity guns.

He also wants to amend Illinois' "red flag" law to allow people to obtain firearms restraining orders for abusive girlfriends and boyfriends. The current law allows only a person's relatives or household members, plus police, to file such a request in court. Firearms restraining orders temporarily remove guns and prevent new purchases by someone deemed dangerous.

Hanson said he supports "common sense" gun controls. That includes having a universal federal background check for people who want to own guns.

"Why should it (the standards) be different state to state?" Hanson said. He agreed with Boxenbaum on banning military-style "assault" weapons and strengthening the red-flag law.

When asked what the first bill they would introduce would be, Boxenbaum said it would be one to cap insulin prices at $35 a month to fight its "sky-high" cost. His grandmother, he said, is an insulin-dependent diabetic.

Hanson said his top priority would be "to make sure the middle class and working class are not taking on any more tax burdens," including by closing loopholes on taxes paid by corporations.

And what's his second priority? "Making sure this is still a place that does everything it can to protect women's health rights," Hanson said.

Boxenbaum said he supported the state's recent repeal of parental notification for abortion for minor girls. "There should not be a single restriction," he said.

The 83d House District includes parts of St. Charles, Geneva, Batavia, North Aurora, Aurora, Montgomery, Sugar Grove and Oswego.

Matt Hanson
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