Danny Solis became alderman in 1996, and since then, his goal has been simple: to make the 25th Ward the safest, healthiest, greenest community for residents and businesses. “The 25th Ward is the best in the city,” Alderman Solis says. “I want to continue to help make the Ward a place where more people want to raise their families, where arts and cultural organizations thrive, and where restaurants and shops love doing business in. My work is to make the 25th Ward a place residents can be as proud to live in as I am.”
To do so, the alderman stands behind key issues, creating a number of initiatives focused on the following areas:
RECOGNITION AND HONORS
- Named Best Alderman of 2013 by the Chicago Reader Readers’ Picks
- Art in Public Places Initiative, 25th Ward named Best Public Artwork of 2014 by Chicago Reader Readers’ Picks
- Art in Public Places Initiative, 25th Ward named Best Public Artwork of 2013 by Chicago Reader Readers’ Picks
- Pilsen named Best Neighborhood for Culture 2013 by Chicago Reader Readers’ Picks
Alderman Solis immigrated from Mexico to the Lower West Side area of Chicago at the age of seven. Immigration has been a lifelong-important issue to him as a result.
- Launched the Chicago City Council Latino Caucus program to aid in processing of DACA applications. Each Latino Caucus Alderman allocates one staff person working ten hours per week to assist residents in completing DACA applications
- Sponsored a resolution calling on President Obama to issue a moratorium on deportation of immigrant parents of U.S. citizen children and DREAM Act-eligible children
- Co-Founder and Executive Director of the United Neighborhood Organization (UNO)
- led to significant and successful grassroots campaign for the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) that allowed thousands of undocumented immigrants to seek amnesty as U.S. residents
- led to 1992 naturalization campaign that eventually assisted over 50,000 immigrants in applying for U.S. citizenship
- Appointed in 1995 as Chairman of Mayor Daley’s Citizenship Assistance Council, which oversaw the naturalization for over 70,000 immigrants from around the world
Danny has made the greening of the 25th Ward a priority for years, bringing many changes to its neighborhoods in an ambitious bid to make this the greenest, most environmentally friendly ward in Chicago. For the past 16 years, he has supported and pushed through initiatives that benefit and beautify all corners of the 25th Ward, from building out Ping Tom Park in Chinatown and the Jefferson Playlot in the UIC area and the Rauner Family YMCA soccer turf to adding the wrought-iron lamp posts and Aztec calendars on the sidewalks on 18th Street.
Danny’s most recent effort was reaching an agreement between the City of Chicago and Midwest Generation to close down the Fisk Coal Power Plant. Going forward, he remains committed to creating jobs at the Fisk site and cleaning up any residual pollution the plant leaves behind.
Danny’s bicycle and pedestrian-friendly vision for the 25th Ward was inspired by a trip he took to the Netherlands. His goal to reduce car emissions and increase biking and pedestrian traffic has resulted in the creation of two bike parking lots, unique approaches to increasing community public space while addressing safety and community connections, and the 18th Street Protected Bike Lake.
Danny is also pioneering the city’s first Green Streets, which feature permeable paving that absorbs pollution and solar-powered information kiosks for self-guided tours in English and Spanish.
- Placed a fence around the highly contaminated Loewenthal Site and worked with the U.S. EPA to begin clean-up of the site
- Worked with community organizations, the Illinois EPA and U.S. EPA to remediate the former site of Loewenthal Metals
- Sponsored ordinance enforcing stricter lead emission monitoring and standards to ensure the safety of residents
- Played an integral part in the closure of the Fisk Coal Power Plant
- First Green Streetscape Project in the City of Chicago
- Blue Island from Wolcott to Ashland
- Cermak from Ashland to Halsted
- Made Pilsen more bike-friendly by installing a protected bike path on 18th Street
Education is a key issue for Danny. During his time in office, he has focused on tackling the structural and overcrowding problems in the Ward’s schools, resulting in the expansion of Benito Juarez High School and Jungman and Pickard Elementary Schools; and a new campus for Orozco Community Academy. As a result, none of the 25th Ward’s schools are overcrowded.
- Play lot addition at Whittier Elementary School
- Benito Juarez Expansion and the addition of Plaza Heroes: $36 million project, $12 million from the Pilsen TIF
- Advocated for Benito Juarez IB program
- Work with Pilsen Planning Committees Education Task Force
- Lobbying for Pre-K, Kindergarten, and Parent Resource Center Funds
- Test scores have increased in some schools by more than 10%
- Spent over $85.5 million in school improvements in the last ten years
- Advocated for Pilsen Academy, Smyth School, and Jungman Elementary. These schools were nearly in final considerations to be closed. All schools in the ward remained open during the 2013 school closings.
- 25th Ward Youth Health Core Initiative Kickoff
- Advocated for air conditioning units in Whittier Elementary, and building maintenance with the use of TIF funds.
- Supported and helped to begin free summer basketball training for students with ABC Pilsen Basketball
- Advocated and received Blackhawks program at Perez Elementary
- Advocated for Chase Mobile Supply in conjunction with principals from Orozco, Ruiz, Walsh Cooper
- Signed on the legislation with other Aldermen to use TIF money for schools
- Groundbreaking to the British School in the West Loop
- School Performances (CPS)
- Level 1 Tier: Perez, Haines, Galileo, Orozco
- Level 2 Tier: Ruiz, Pilsen Academy
- Level 3 Tier: Jungman, Cooper
- Level 4 Tier: Whittier, Pickard
JOBS AND BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT
Businesses are an essential part of the 25th Ward’s communities, and Danny’s priority is to work together with business owners to bring their plans into fruition. Whether it is providing financial support, working together to solve parking problems or creating ordinances, Danny and his office work to develop strategies to help businesses locate in the Ward.
- Sponsored a resolution calling for hearings on City hiring preferences for Chicago Public School high school graduates
- Co-sponsored an ordinance requiring City of Chicago officers and employees to be Chicago city residents
- Brought over 3,000 new jobs to the Pilsen Industrial Corridor
- Added a new DHL facility in 2013
- New Training Facility for Operating Engineer’s Local 399
- New BCBS Distribution Office
- Continuously works with developers to hire minority and local workforce
- Installed new artificial turf field at Sheridan Park and Harrison Park
- Contributed to the Ping Tom Park Expansion with a brand new field and boat house
- Contributed to the Jefferson Park Expansion with the additions of new playground equipment and walk paths
- Collaborated with Yollocalli Youth Arts Reach, Ruiz Elementary and Dvoark Park Advisory Council regarding Friends of the Park Playground Renovation application
- Awarded playground replacements as part of the Friends of the Park program to Barrett Park Playground, Baraga Park Playground and Miller Park Playground
- In partnership with the Dvorak Park Advisory Council, committed to an extensive playground renovation that included a new play lot
- Activated abandoned field house at Barrett Park in partnership with the Chicago Park District’s Arts-in-Residence Program
CRIME AND SAFETY
Safety in the 25th Ward is of utmost priority for Danny. One initiative that the alderman championed during his time in office is improving lighting throughout the ward, such as on Halsted and 18th Streets.
As much as with the greening and beautification initiatives above, Danny’s vision for continued safety within the ward is based on fostering a strong sense of community, where neighbors and community leaders know and watch out for each other.
- Statistics show that crime has steadily decreased over the last ten years in the 25th Ward
- Introduced an ordinance decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of cannabis to free up valuable police hours for more serious crimes
- Co-sponsored Resolutions:
- Calling for hearings on effective methods of identifying, investigating and preventing child abuse and neglect
- Calling for the U.S. Congress to ratify the Constitutional amendment to overturn “Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission”
- Expressing support for adequate state funding for Child Care Assistance Program for fiscal year 2012-2013
ARTS AND CULTURE
- Commissioned the Pilsen Historic District including tax relief opportunities
- Sponsored an ordinance establishing a category for artist Live-Work Units within commercial districts
- Redmoon Theatre moves into the Cermak Road Creative Industry District
- Launched Art in Public Places Community Arts Initiative
- Voted best public art in 2013 and 2014
- Over 40 murals
- $15,000 invested in artwork
- In partnership with the Chicago Park District, secured Barrett Park Field House for Yollocalli Youth Arts Reach arts programming
- Funded 29 public art murals within Pilsen
- Provided opportunities for four public art murals by the Mexican Fine Arts Museum, Elevarte Community Studio and Yollocalli Youth Arts Reach
BEAUTIFICATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE
On a recent Crain’s Chicago Business article, neighborhoods of the 25th Ward were on par with North Shore communities in terms to foreclosures — zero in Chinatown and very few in Pilsen. Housing and real estate trends like these bolsters Danny’s goals of making the Ward more livable for residents, current and future.
Danny’s other efforts to improve Ward infrastructure include main water pipe replacement and filling vaulted sidewalks (20-25 to date). His commitment to community development resulted in the expansion of University Village, welcoming more housing, businesses and revenue in the 25th Ward; and revitalizing the Pilsen Industrial Corridor, which created thousands of jobs for the neighborhood. In 2006, he also successfully lobbied for Pilsen to be declared a state historical district, a landmark status that enables over 4,000 properties to participate in the Illinois Property Tax Assessment Freeze Program.
Looking ahead, Danny hopes to continue facilitating the development of the Creative Industry District, a live/work community along the Chicago River and Cermak.
- Brighter lights for a safer community installed at 28 different city blocks
- Improved and resurfaced streets at 15 different city blocks
- Speed bumps added for safety at five different city blocks
- Police cameras installed at 15 different intersections
- Improvement and reconstructed alleys at four different areas
- Improved sidewalks, street lights and trees at:
- Taylor from Halsted to Laflin
- $2.5 million streetscaping for West Taylor St. from Ogden to Western; restoration of cul-de-sacs and addition of cul-de-sacs at Claremont and Taylor
- ADA curbs added at:
- Morgan from 14th Pl. to 15th St.
- Racine from 14th Pl. to 15th St.
- Racine Viaduct – reconstruction and reinforcement
- Added traffic light at:
- 14th Pl. and Halsted
- Created more than 150 non-for-profit mixed rental and purchase units
- Over 105 more affordable private units in Pilsen and priority to residents
- 21% affordable in private development priced from 60% to 90% of median income
- Sponsored four housing fairs in Pilsen in 2006