Alderman Danny Solis Will Not Seek Re-election
After more than two decades on the City Council, Chicago Alderman Danny Solis will not seek re-election.
Solis, who was appointed by Mayor Richard M Daley in 1996 to represent the 25th ward, said over the weekend he was ready to “enter a new chapter in my life and pass the baton of public service to another” in a statement published by ABC7. The 25th ward includes a large chunk of Pilsen, and parts of Chinatown, the West Loop, the South Loop, University Village, and Little Italy.
“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,” the alderman said.
Solis, who chairs the city’s zoning committee and is a staunch ally of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who also will not seek re-election, was to face several challengers for his post in 2019, including Alex Acevedo, Hilario Dominguez, and Byron Sigcho Lopez. Solis has fought uphill battles to keep his post as alderman the past two election cycles. In 2014, Lopez nearly pushed him into a runoff, missing the mark by about just 70 votes, and in 2011 he was pushed into a runoff by Cuahutemoc Morfin.
Mayor Emanuel said Solis “deserves the thanks and congratulations of our entire city after a lifetime of public service.” “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” Emanuel said in a statement. “His efforts have paid dividends in our classrooms, in the halls of new libraries and in parks that will delight for generations. Danny has transformed his ward, and along with it Chicago.”
While Solis’s tenure as alderman was celebrated by some, his departure will be celebrated by others. A study from UIC’s political science department published in May of 2017 showed that on divided votes in City Council, Solis sided with Mayor Emanuel 100 percent of the time from 2015 to 2017. In 2013, Solis made assurances to Pilsen residents who were fighting to keep a fieldhouse being used as a community gathering space and library at Whittier Elementary open that he would work with them, but when the bulldozers came a day later, he was on vacation. Long time critics of Solis have pointed to his support for gentrification in the neighborhoods he represents, which has seen rising rents and heavy displacement of immigrants that have called the 25th ward home for generations.
Solis rebuffed that criticism, telling the Chicago Tribune he was “not embarrassed” and that he was proud of what he’s done in Pilsen. “The job of any alderman, the first priority is to work to make the neighborhoods he represents better,” said Solis. “That means safer, better schools and creating jobs. I think under that criteria, you can’t deny what I’ve done.”
Candidates who were to challenge Solis – who has nearly $100,000 in his personal campaign war chest along with almost $300,000 in the 25th Ward Democratic Organization fund which he chairs – said they see his departure as an opportunity for a more progressive voice to represent the ward.
In a statement emailed to the press on Saturday, Dominguez called Solis’s departure a “pivotal moment” for the ward. “We live in trying times. As a longlife resident of this ward, I have seen and felt the hardships our community continues to face, ranging from polluted backyards to skyrocketing rent to underfunded schools,” said Dominguez. “We need a new generation of leaders in this city. We need leaders who understand the intricacies of these challenges and who are ready to fight for specific, innovative policies on behalf of every resident…I’m pleased that the alderman sees that it’s time for a new voice.”
Sigcho-Lopez also said that Solis’s departure was an opportunity for 25th ward residents. “Our campaign has been talking to voters every day, and we hear the same things in every neighborhood,” he said in a statement. “The voters want an independent leader who will fight for quality schools, keep our neighborhoods affordable, address the root causes of violence, and bring transparency, accountability, and responsiveness to the aldermanic office.”
First Major Snowstorm Hits Chicagoland Area
Chicago’s first major snow storm of the year dumped several inches of snow across a wide swath of the metropolitan area, with totals reaching up to or exceeding a foot in some northern suburbs and collar counties.
The National Weather Service issued a Winter Storm Warning Sunday night that was set to expire at 9am Monday. The storm began in the early evening Sunday with a rainy, slushy mix in the city, which solidified into snow overnight. By Monday morning, Midway airport saw 3.4” of snow, while O’Hare had received 7.4”. According to WGN, the heaviest totals were in McHenry County, with the area around Woodstock seeing more than 13 inches of snow. North and West suburban areas like Palatine and Villa Park saw about 6 inches of snow, while South suburban areas like New Lenox received about 2 inches.
The storm also created dangerous road conditions, knocked out power in some areas, and caused hundreds of flight cancellations. According to ABC7, ComEd reported about 169,000 power outages as of 6:30am. According to officials, at least 670 flights were cancelled out of O’Hare with delays averaging about 50 minutes, while at Midway some 90 flights were cancelled. Some area schools cancelled classes, but Chicago Public Schools said they would remain open.
Anti-Gun Violence Activists March on the South Side
Chicago activists demanding an end to gun violence rallied and marched on the city’s South Side on Saturday evening. According to the Chicago Tribune, about 80 people gathered in Washington Park and later marched down Martin Luther King Drive to 61st street.
“The youth will not accept or tolerate another four years like we did,” said Assata Lewis a member of the anti-violence group Good Kids Mad City, who organized the demonstration. “Enough is enough.”
.@awkwardblkfem spoke at our #GKMCPeaceMarch last night uplifting her lil cousin and @AssataDaughters member #TakiyaHolmes and other children lost to #GunViolence at the end of our march on 63rd and King Drive in #Chicago! CPD surrounded us & threatened arrest!#GoodKidsMadCity pic.twitter.com/5aNSwHeXNI
— GoodKidsMadCity (@GKMC18) November 25, 2018
The group was joined by survivors of gun violence and the families and friends of victims who have been killed over the years.
“We’ve got to do stuff in these communities for other people to get involved in,” said Dorothy Holmes, the mother of Ronald “Ronnieman” Johnson, who was shot and killed by Chicago Police in 2014. “If not, nobody else is gonna do it because they’re trying to take everything from us anyway. I refuse to let them keep doing stuff to bring me down.”
Holmes and other survivors along with organizers at GKMC have long demanded increased police accountability, as well as an increase in resources for services in communities that have been long been suffering from gun violence caused by a lack of investment in them along with other systemic issues like racism and segregation.
.@GKMC18 was amazing tonight! They brought 100 young people out to talk about holding elected officials accountable, stopping the violence and demanding resources for their communities! I’m so proud of them! This is @ladieversatile speaking!#GKMCPeaceMarch #GoodKidsMadCity pic.twitter.com/YsRM9zJIHp
— Kofi Ademola (@KofiAdemola) November 25, 2018
According to a press release from the group, they’re demanding the City open up an office for violence prevention to be funded with some of the $1.4 billion the Chicago Police Department receives.
Fact-Check: Mendoza Claims Outsized Role in Ending Illinois Executions – Kiannah Sepeda-Miller/Better Government Association
Picturing the End of Money Bail – Sarah-Ji/Belt Magazine
Where Do We Find Our Story Ideas? – Jodi S. Cohen/Propublica Illinois