In 1996, Daniel “Danny” Solis was appointed Alderman in Chicago’s City Council by Mayor Richard M. Daley following the indictment of his predecessor. His years of public service as Alderman of the 25th Ward has been made possible by the voting constituency to serve as a voice and leader for the community comprised of Pilsen, Heart of Chicago, Little Italy, Chinatown and UIC/West Loop. This year, he celebrated his 16th anniversary in Chicago’s City Council.
Through his tenure, Alderman Solis has also received special City Council appointments as President Pro Tempore (2001-2009) and Chairman of the Committee on Zoning, Landmarks and Building Standards (2009-current). As the voted Chair of the Hispanic Caucus by fellow Hispanic aldermen, his experience enables him to promote strong representation of the Hispanic community in the new City Council and with Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Solis also played a major role in the ward remap negotiations based on 2010 U.S. Census figures.
Born in Monterrey, Mexico, Alderman Solis immigrated to the United States when he was seven years old with his family to the Lower West Side area of Chicago, and attended St. Mel High School and the University of Illinois at Chicago. He began his career as a community organizer and then entered the classroom as a teacher. Inspired by increasing educational opportunities for his community and populations most at risk — minorities and youth — Alderman Solis assumed a leadership role as Founder and Executive Director of the Latino Youth Alternative High School (LYHS) to address the problem of high dropout rates among children in the Pilsen/Little Village community. Subsequently, he became the first Latino Executive Director of the Pilsen Neighbors Community Council, served on the Board of Directors for the Eighteenth Street Development Corporation and Gads Hill Center. These first career experiences greatly influenced Solis’ desire to spearhead larger legislative campaigns and see through major policy wins.
Undoubtedly, Alderman Solis is a key figure in Chicago’s political landscape. His leadership as Co-Founder and Executive Director of the United Neighborhood Organization (UNO) led to Solis’ most significant and successful grassroots, legislation-driven campaigns within Chicago’s communities in history: The 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) campaign that allowed thousands of undocumented immigrants to seek amnesty as U.S. residents, and the historic 1992 naturalization campaign that eventually assisted over 50,000 immigrants in applying for U.S. citizenship. These policy initiatives became model programs not only in Chicago, but across the nation. In 1995, Solis was appointed as Chairman of Mayor Daley’s Citizenship Assistance Council, which oversaw the naturalization for over 70,000 immigrants from around the world. Solis also led educational reforms for the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) by helping organize a campaign to enlist parents and community members to run in the first Local School Council (LSC) elections.
Alderman Solis has pioneered and negotiated major community economic developments and infrastructure enhancements, leading to increased employment opportunities, strengthened cultural foundations, advanced educational institutions, sustainability initiatives through environment and transit, and capital contributions for the 25th Ward such as:
International Produce Market and American Linen Company to stay and/or locate in the 25th Wards Planned Manufacturing District (PMD)
Ping Tom Memorial Park
City’s first green street
Closure of the Fisk Coal Power Plant
18th Street Protected Bike Lane
Today, Alderman Solis continues to represent Pilsen, home of the National Museum of Mexican Art; creative-cultural hubs; the West Loop area near the prestigious University of Illinois’ Chicago campus; and Chicago’s fast-growing Chinatown community. He resides in the Tri-Taylor community and has four children and three beautiful grandchildren. During his free time, Alderman Solis enjoys bike riding with his son, catching up on movies and taking salsa dance lessons.