Miguel Solis is running for mayor. The three-term Dallas ISD trustee made his campaign official this morning at the Dolphin Heights Neighborhood Association headquarters, a small converted home near Haskell and Dolphin in a part of town Solis has represented on the school board since 2013.
Solis becomes the sixth entrant into the crowded mayoral race, which voters will take up in May. They include Mike Ablon, the real estate developer best known for his work in the Design District; Albert Black, the Oak Cliff businessman; Larry Casto, the former city attorney; Lynn McBee, the volunteer, philanthropist, and recent Highland Park transplant; and Regina Montoya, the lawyer and former Hillary Clinton aide. There’s a fair amount of educated speculation about term-limited North Oak Cliff Councilman Scott Griggs announcing his run as soon as this week. You can also find some tweets and Facebook posts that indicate that state Rep. Jason Villalba is seriously considering his own run.
Solis, at 32, is the youngest of the bunch. It’s a familiar situation; he’s the youngest trustee to ever win a seat on the school district’s board.
And he’s arguing that what Dallas ISD achieved during his tenure will set him apart from his opponents: a new policy for pre-kindergarten; a ban of suspensions for young students, which has been transformed into a state law; the drafting of an equity resolution that calls for the district to acknowledge the impact of segregation on its student body; improved wages for hourly district workers; the voter approval of the largest bond package in Dallas ISD history; and reducing the total number of schools on Texas Education Agency’s worst list to four, down from 43 when Solis came onto the board.
“You get a unique perspective when you serve on a school board and you work in DISD the way that I have,” he said. “I’m going to bring to the table the ability to put bold ideas forward and then work to make those ideas a reality. That has been my track record in DISD and it will be my track record as mayor of Dallas.”
He’s taking a little from his friend Beto O’Rourke—Solis mentioned immediate plans to “visit every neighborhood in Dallas,” a localized parallel of O’Rourke’s vow to spend time in all 254 Texas counties for his senate run. He’s looking for residents to form an advisory board to help him understand the issues that matter to them but may be out of his view.
He said it will be “diverse from a racial standpoint, from a gender standpoint, from a sexual orientation standpoint, from an age standpoint” and include residents from all parts of town. He mostly spoke broadly about affordable housing, transportation, food deserts, and public safety, the issues he said were most important to the city. He also spoke of the importance of continuing the momentum of Dallas ISD, which is still buzzing after voters approved a tax increase to fund some of its reform programs.
In an interview afterward, he did elaborate a bit on Dallas Area Rapid Transit, saying, “we’ve got public transportation supply across the region, but I’m not sure that supply is meeting every day Dallasites’ demand.” He touched on whether to tear out I-345: “We’re going through the process of listening to people and getting the sense of what their thoughts are.” And he hit on the role of urban planning in the city’s future: “We’re about to look at a downtown renaissance and that core offers a unique opportunity to bring people from all across Dallas together to co-mingle and see the greatness in each other. Urban planning plays a critical role and I’ll make it an issue in this race.”
Solis was joined by his wife Dr. Jacqueline Nortman and daughter, the 10-month-old Olivia Grace Solis, whose heart transplant was widely chronicled in Dallas media. There were about 20 people seated in folding chairs in the front room of the neighborhood association. Among them was Jorge Baldor, a commissioner for the city’s Office of Cultural Affairs and Solis’ co-founder of the Latino Center for Leadership Development. The two started the nonprofit to help lift up Latino leaders who sought positions on boards and in political office.
Solis delivered a polished speech that ran about 10 minutes and generated a few standing ovations from the supporters who crowded into the room. He choked up a little when mentioning his daughter, who had to be taken out after being startled into tears by one of the ovations.
“Dallas’ world-class medical institutions saved Olivia,” he said. “Dallas’ world-class people sustained us.”
Solis said afterward that he doesn’t plan to walk away from his term on the school board while he’s running for mayor; that ends in 2020. His campaign manager and treasurer is John Hill, a former teacher at L.G. Pinkston High School who worked on the successful campaigns of Dallas ISD board trustees Dan Micciche and Dustin Marshall.