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Longtime Pilsen Ald. Danny Solis won’t seek re-election

Ald. Danny Solis (25th) speaks to the Sun-Times editorial board in 2015. | Sun-Times file photo

In a surprise announcement on Saturday, longtime Ald. Danny Solis (25th) said he won’t seek re-election in 2019 as he retires after more than two decades in the City Council chambers.

“After 23 years representing the greatest community in Chicago, it’s time to enter a new chapter in my life and pass the baton of public service to another,” the Pilsen alderman said in a statement.

“Chicago’s challenges are many, but our capacity to meet them is unlimited and I know that the citizens of the 25th Ward will make their voices heard in this upcoming election season. I hope all the candidates in this race will listen closely and do their best to bring our Ward together.”

On Monday, Solis had told the Chicago Sun-Times that he still planned to run for a seventh term, despite being one of just two incumbent aldermen who did not submit signatures on the first day of petition-filing to appear on the ballot for the Feb. 26 election.

Solis wields considerable power in City Hall as chairman of the Zoning Committee, where he has been lauded for increasing transparency by disclosing agenda items. Solis also previously chaired the council’s Hispanic Caucus.

He started as a schoolteacher in the 1980s, organizing several Latino community groups and co-founding the United Neighborhood Organization.

That politically influential group later came under fire for using a $98 million state school grant to hire contractors with ties to UNO executives, which Solis called “improper, at the very least” in 2013.

Mayor Richard M. Daley appointed Solis as 25th Ward alderman in 1996 to replace Ambrosio Medrano, who resigned after pleading guilty in a corruption probe.

Winning re-election the next five cycles, Solis was a top ally to Daley as well as Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

More recently, he has been key in efforts to secure a developer for Chicago’s Old Main Post Office, and he was a vocal critic of a Chicago shelter that faced allegations of abuse against immigrant children separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border.

“Danny Solis deserves the thanks and congratulations of our entire city after a lifetime of public service, and I will be the first in line,” Emanuel said in a statement. “As a leader in the City Council for more than 20 years and as a leader in his community for even longer, Danny has been a champion for immigrants, for school students and for families.”

Solis’ sister Patti Solis Doyle is a Democratic operative who managed Hillary Clinton’s Senate campaigns and her 2008 presidential bid. His brother Santiago Solis co-founded the clout-heavy firm Monterrey Security, a Chicago Park District contractor that has drawn scrutiny for its billing practices, among other issues.

As of Friday evening, five people had filed to run for 25th Ward alderman: Aida Flores, Byron Sigcho-Lopez, Troy Antonio Hernandez, Alexander “Alex” Acevedo and Hilario Dominguez.

Sigcho-Lopez almost forced Solis into a run-off in 2015, when Solis took 51.1 percent of the vote to Sigcho-Lopez’s 18.5 percent, election records show.

The ward includes all of Pilsen and parts of Chinatown, the South Loop and West Loop.

Monday is the final day candidates can file to appear on the ballot.