Republicans in 19th Senate primary say property taxes, immigration as top issues

Candidates in the March 19 Republican Primary for the 19th Illinois Senate District say high property taxes, school choice and illegal immigration are top concerns.

Samantha Jean Gasca, of New Lenox, Hillary Mattsey Kurzawa, of Frankfort, and Max Solomon, of Hazel Crest, are seeking their party’s nomination to challenge 19th District incumbent state Sen. Michael Hastings, D-Frankfort, in November.

It will be the second time in the past two elections where Hastings has faced a general election challenger after Lockport Republican Patrick Sheehan conceded a very close race in 2022.

The district includes all or parts of Country Club Hills, Frankfort, Hazel Crest, Homewood, Joliet, Lockport, Matteson, New Lenox, Oak Forest, Orland Park and Tinley Park.

Gasca, 36, earned a master of divinity in pastoral studies degree from Moody Theological Seminary in Chicago and works as a data specialist for Moody Radio. Gasca said she is also a life coach and motivational speaker.

She ran last year for the New Lenox Elementary District 122 Board.

Gasca said she wants to see family school choice for parents of students from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade, and public school curriculum revamped to make students better prepared for college or the workforce.

She said she would work to lower property taxes, particularly for seniors whose children who are already out of local schools and have moved on.

Gasca said she would work to halt “illegal immigration,” saying undocumented children are coming into the U.S. and falling prey to sex trafficking.

She said Illinois needs to do more to bring industry back to the state, including offering tax incentives and subsidies, and said state spending needs to be trimmed.

Mattsey Kurzawa is a Frankfort Township trustee and former opera singer married to a Lemont police officer.

She ran for Frankfort trustee last year and also for the Will County Board in 2022.

She says she promotes fiscal discipline and lower taxes, and supports school choice and parental rights for parents of students.

Solomon, 53, an attorney from Hazel Crest, is what political pundits might term a “perennial” candidate, who ran as a Republican candidate for governor in 2022.

He also ran for a seat last year for the South Suburban College Board in South Holland, where he is an adjunct professor of political science.

He previously ran for the 19th District and was twice a challenger in the 38th House District. In the 2020 general election, he lost to incumbent Debbie Meyers-Martin, D-Olympia Fields, who received 78% of the vote and defeated three Democratic challengers in the primary.

Solomon said illegal immigration and high property taxes are priorities for him should he ultimately be elected.

Campaign financial filings show his campaign had $5,200 available to spend at the end of 2023, outpacing that of Gasca, whose fourth-quarter filing for last year showed just under $300 on hand, and Kurzawa, who reported a bit more than $7 available.

Hastings, at the end of last year, had nearly $221,000 available to spend, and took in more than $40,000 in contributions during the first weeks of this year, according to campaign filings.

Days after the November 2022 general election, the outcome of the race between Hastings and Sheehan remained up in the air, with Sheehan ultimately conceding the race. Out of more than 82,600 ballots cast in Cook and Will counties, Hastings had a slim lead of less than 1,000 votes before Sheehan conceded.