DOWNERS GROVE – On a night when Democratic women realized election victories throughout DuPage County, one of the biggest upsets took place in the 81st Illinois House District, where incumbent David Olsen, R-Downers Grove, was upset by political newcomer Anne Stava-Murray.
Stava-Murray, a Naperville resident, took an early lead and maintained it throughout the evening in a race that was extremely close until the final precincts reported at about 11 p.m.
Stava-Murray garnered 23,825 votes to Olsen's 23,500 in DuPage and Wll counties, according to unofficial results. Stava-Murray won DuPage with 50.47 percent of the vote, or 23,026 votes, to Olsen's 49.53 percent, or 22,599 votes. In Will, Olsen took the lead with 53 percent of the vote, but that only amounted to 901 votes to Stava-Murray's 799 votes, or 47 percent, preliminary numbers show.
"I'm so excited. I'm so happy," Stava-Murray said during a phone interview from her victory party at Another Round Bar & Grill in Downers Grove.
Stava-Murray spent only $30,000 on the race but said she made frequent appearances at community events and leveraged social media to get her message out.
Conventional wisdom says $100,000 is needed to win a race for the state legislature, she said.
"I'm going to represent the people," Stava-Murray said. "I want to empower people. This is just an incredible moment."
She said she knew she faced an uphill battle but never discounted victory.
"I always thought that there was a possibility," Stava-Murray said.
Stava-Murray, 32, has served as a commissioner on the Naperville Board of Fire and Police to which she was appointed in June 2017.
Olsen, 30, was a Downers Grove village commissioner and a College of DuPage trustee and vice chairman before joining the legislature. He could not be reached for comment.
Olsen campaigned on his record and experience over the past two years in Springfield.
"I have the public service experience to listen carefully to all sides and then represent the views and opinions of the 81st House District," Olsen said in response to a Suburban Life candidate questionnaire. "I have a strong record of protecting taxpayers and serving the community. I believe that some of the best legislation comes from working together with the diverse people of our state."