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Democrat launches campaign to unseat Olsen in 81st District

DOWNERS GROVE – Anne Stava-Murray distinctly remembers when she decided to become politically active.

“It all started on Nov. 8 last year,” Stava-Murray said, recalling the date Donald Trump was elected the nation’s 45th president. “I really found my voice on Nov. 9. I wrote a letter to my daughter on Nov. 9 that crystallized my thoughts.”

One year later, the Naperville resident and mother of two prepares to launch her campaign for 81st District state representative at a Nov. 8 kickoff event at Emmett’s Brewing Company in Downers Grove.

The Democrat could face incumbent state Rep. David Olsen, R-Downers Grove, in the November 2018 election.

Olsen was appointed in July 2016 to fill former state Rep. Ron Sandack's seat in the Illinois House and then defeated Downers Grove commissioner Greg Hose in the November general election.

This is Stava-Murray’s first bid for elected office, but she’s an experienced community organizer who views running for office as the logical next step.

The Avery Coonley School graduate is the co-founder of Naperville Women March Action. She participated in the Women’s March in January in Washington D.C. and has played a central role organizing events on a local level, such as a Naperville vigil following the August attack in Charlottesville, Va.

“I’m really a full-time community organizer,” said Stava-Murray, 31. “I got an amazing group of women together.”

It’s that network of women coupled with professional skills garnered during a career in advertising and consumer research that Stava-Murray will rely on to run a successful campaign, she said.

“I worked in advertising for a very long time,” said Stava-Murray, a graduate of Benet Academy and Dartmouth College.

Hose garnered nearly 47 percent of the vote in his 2016 race against Olsen. Stava-Murray has consulted with Hose in preparation for her campaign.

“He has connected me with so many people,” she said, adding she’ll benefit from the organization Hose put in place.

Stava-Murray said she’ll employ “21st century campaign methods” in her bid to unseat Olsen.

Those methods include relying on the networks she’s built as a community organizer and leaning heavily on social media to get the word out, she said.

Stava-Murray criticized Olsen for being absent for a recent vote on tougher gun control legislation.

Olsen said he was not present for the vote because he had "matters in the district office that were pressing."

"The outcome of that bill was never in question," Olsen said. "It was a pretty wide-ranging bill. That bill was hastily drawn together to make a political statement more than anything."

Olsen said he welcomes opposition in the upcoming race.

"I welcome the opportunity to present my record to the voters," he said. "I hope that we're talking about the issues rather than slinging mud."

Stava-Murray is convinced her campaign will draw significant interest.

"The coming election should be very interesting because people in this area do not have a party allegiance," she said. "People will show up and vote."

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