House District 49 candidates Hirschauer, Wallace talk guns, SAFE-T Act, abortion

The two people seeking to represent the 49th state House district have different reasons for seeking office.

"Advocating for common-sense gun laws led me down this path," said incumbent Democrat Maura Hirschauer of Batavia, who took office in January 2021.

She became involved in the Kane-Kendall counties chapter of Moms Demand Action, a gun-issues advocacy group. She said she was unsatisfied with legislators' responses to ideas proposed by the group. "I decided to run for myself after they didn't fix loopholes," she said.

She intends to continue her work, including being a lead sponsor of a bill that would ban sales of high-capacity firearms and ammunition.

"I firmly believe it is about the guns. It is about access to guns, the proliferation of guns and our country's adoration of guns," she said.

Her opponent, Republican Keith Wallace of Bartlett, said safety could be improved by "fully funding police" so they can increase confiscation of the guns of people whose Firearm Owner's Identification cards have been revoked - "people we know should not have guns but are holding on to guns right now," Wallace said.

But he also said Illinois has some of the toughest laws about guns, yet other states have less gun violence. "More laws will not fix this problem," he said.

Wallace has been mayor of Bartlett for nine years. He says he is running to fix problems that he believes are prompting people to move out of state.

He said his wife told him, "We're staying here, our kids are here, you've got to get in and try to fix what is happening in Illinois."

Wallace said the 2021 SAFE-T Act criminal justice reform law was not well-thought-out. He would like to repeal it, he said, and rewrite it with the aid of police and state's attorneys.

Hirschauer noted the bill was passed before she took office. She said she has supported increased state spending on police and agrees with the most controversial part of the bill, the conversion to a cashless bail system.

Regarding abortion rights, Wallace said he believes most families disagree with the repeal of a state law that required parents to be notified if their minor daughter seeks an abortion.

But overall, "I am in favor of allowing women to choose what health care is right for them," he said.

Hirschauer said Illinois needs to increase its capacity to provide abortions, as people from other states that have largely banned them come here for the procedures.

"Abortion is health care, and reproductive choice is a human right," she said.

The 49th District includes parts of Aurora, Bartlett, Batavia, Elgin, Geneva, Hanover Park, Naperville, South Elgin, Streamwood, Warrenville, Wayne and West Chicago.

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