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Solis Names New Chief

Rep. Hilda Solis (D-Calif.) has promoted her legislative counsel, Don Lyster, to chief of staff.

In his role as legislative counsel, Lyster handled issues related to labor, trade, immigration, homeland security and the judiciary. He will still handle telecommunications. He has worked for Solis since March 2002, and has previously worked for Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D-Md.) and the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Lyster, 32, is a native of Atlanta. In 1995 he graduated from Loyola College in Maryland with a bachelor’s in political science, and in 2001 he received his law degree from Catholic University’s Columbus School of Law.

Dayton Hires Three. Outgoing Sen. Mark Dayton (D-Minn.) has made some changes around his Washington, D.C., office, hiring several new staff members.

Chani Wiggins, 34, has been hired as legislative director, replacing Lani Kawamura. Previously, Wiggins served as legislative and communications director for Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), senior legislative assistant for judiciary and labor issues for Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and research director for Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.).

Wiggins graduated from the University of Florida in 1992 with a bachelor’s in journalism. Before entering politics she put her degree to use, working as a reporter for The Tampa (Fla.) Tribune and The Albany (Ga.) Herald. Wiggins hails from St. Petersburg, Fla.

Jonathan Heafitz, 27, will now serve as the legislative aide for health care, labor and judiciary issues. He replaces Demian Moore, who will now handle tax, budget and education issues. Prior to joining Dayton’s office, Heafitz worked for Rep. John Tierney (D-Mass.) and Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.).

A native of Swampscott, Mass., Heafitz holds a master’s in public policy from Georgetown University’s Public Policy Institute, as well as a bachelor’s from Brandeis University.

Brooks Halliday, 23, has been brought on board as a speechwriter. Halliday served as an intern in Dayton’s office in the summer of 2001. He also interned in Rep. John Kline’s (R-Minn.) office. Originally from Edina, Minn., Halliday graduated from Smith College in 2004 with a bachelor’s in American studies.

Doolittle Chief Retires. Rep. John Doolittle’s (R-Calif.) longtime chief of staff, David Lopez, who has served the Congressman for almost 20 years, is stepping down.

Lopez, 41, cited the grueling commute and a desire to spend more time with his family as the reason for leaving Doolittle’s office. In a statement, he said that “for too long now, I’ve been a ‘commuter dad and husband.’” Flying from coast to coast every week while the House is in session is no longer as appealing to Lopez as “driving carpool and helping with algebra homework.”

Doolittle said he is sad to see Lopez go. “Over the years, I have developed a strong friendship with David and his wife, Kathy, and our friendship has paralleled our professional relationship. … We shall surely miss him.”

A native of Gold River, Calif., Lopez graduated from Stanford University in 1985 with a bachelor’s in political science and communications. Shortly after graduating, he went to work for Doolittle, then a state Senator. When Doolittle was first elected to Congress in 1991, Lopez joined him in Washington as chief of staff, a role he has held ever since.