Wheeler, Hanson vie to represent the redrawn 83rd state House district
Voters in the redrawn state House 83rd District Tuesday will choose between someone who has been a legislator for the past eight years and a former Kane County Board member.
Republican Keith Wheeler of Oswego, the Republican, has been in the state legislature since 2015. He currently represents the 50th District.
He faces Democrat Matt Hanson of Aurora, who was on the Kane County Board for two years.
Wheeler, 55, owns Responsive Network Services.
Hanson, 49, is an engineer with the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad.
"The policies of my opponent aren't really the way I view things ... there are some things that haven't been represented the way I want them in Springfield," Hanson said when asked why he is running. "As someone in the working class, I don't feel those needs and values are represented as well in the area now as they could be."
Wheeler said he first ran for office because, as a small-business owner, he was upset with how the state treated such businesses.
Wheeler said he has "kind of evolved to being a reasonable voice in Springfield," and he noted he is one of the few Republicans that leads a committee in the Democrat-controlled House.
The SAFE-T Act
Hanson said he supports the SAFE-T Act, a 2020 law that changed many aspects of law enforcement and criminal prosecution. One of its most noteworthy provisions, cashless bail, goes into effect on Jan. 1.
"I will always be steadfast in my support for public safety," Hanson said. He said there is a lot of "misinformation" about some of the changes.
Wheeler said he wants legislators to "clean up" some aspects of the law, including how soon victims must face alleged assailants in court. He also thinks the state should make up the revenue circuit court clerks' offices will lose starting Jan. 1. The clerks now keep 10% of any bond posted.
Hanson said he was proud that Illinois still allows women to obtain abortions and would continue to support that. "It is about a woman's right to her own privacy. It's privacy (to make) her health decisions," he said.
Wheeler said he and his wife are personally "pro-life," but "we are not looking to necessarily eliminate an option."
He said the state should have a referendum asking the residents about the issue, such as the one conducted in Kansas or the upcoming one in Michigan, because "this is a very personal issue for some people."
Hanson favors a state ban on high-capacity firearms and ammunition. He also says he supports Second Amendment rights.
"Until we need a militia -- until we are invaded -- I don't think they (such guns) are needed (in private citizens' hands)," he said. "And if we are invaded, you can have them right back."
Wheeler said he has concerns about the definition of an assault weapon would be under legislation sponsored by Democratic Rep. Martha Hirschauer of Batavia.
"My priority has always been to make sure people who shouldn't have guns don't have them," he said.
Wheeler said he persuaded eight other Republicans this year to support a bill to expand the definition of "clear and present danger" for getting restraining orders preventing some people from buying buns.
The 83rd District includes parts of Aurora, Batavia, Geneva, Montgomery, North Aurora, St. Charles, Sugar Grove, Oswego and Yorkville.