Alderman Ricardo Munoz enters rehab; opponents call for resignation after domestic violence arrest

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago Ald. Ricardo Munoz (22nd Ward) has checked himself into a rehabilitation facility after he was charged with allegedly attacking his wife on New Year's Eve.

Meanwhile, four candidates seeking to replace him in the February elections are calling for him to step down, stating that he can't effectively represent the ward.

"His conduct doesn't reflect the values of the office which he represents," said candidate Richard Juarez during a news conference outside Munoz's office.

Munoz pleaded not guilty last week to a misdemeanor domestic battery charge.

RELATED: Alderman Ricardo Munoz arrested for domestic violence incident, police say

His wife of 30 years, Betty Torres-Munoz, told investigators Munoz was intoxicated when he hit her at their Little Village home.

"As a woman who has experienced domestic violence, this is an issue that is very close and dear to my heart," said Liz Lopez, a 22nd Ward aldermanic candidate.

When Munoz announced he would not seek another term last summer, he endorsed Michael Rodriguez. Rodriguez said Wednesday that Munoz should "resign his position and focus on his recovery."

Rodriguez said he will donate the $1,500 campaign contribution from Munoz to Mujeres Latinas en Accion, an organization that helps victims of domestic violence.

Munoz said he checked himself into a rehabilitation facility in Indiana, but it's unclear what is the nature of the treatment. However, Munoz has been public with his battle with alcohol.

RELATED: Alderman Munoz's wife calls him 'addict,' 'womanizer' after alleged attack on New Year's Eve

His 22nd Ward office will remain open while he's at the facility for four weeks.

The longtime alderman said he has no plans to resign.

"I'm going to continue my life in public service. I love helping people and I love building stuff," Munoz said in a statement.

"Women should be respected. Domestic violence is a crime," said Neftalie Gonzalez who is running to replace Munoz.

Jaurez said if Munoz doesn't resign, other measures need to be taken.

"We also call on Mayor Emanuel and the city council to strip Alderman Munoz of the duties and responsibilities of his office," he said.

According to a spokesperson for the City of Chicago's office of the City Clerk, no specific person has the power to oust an alderman. However, he could be out if he arranges a plea deal or is convicted of a crime.

If Munoz resigns, his replacement would be appointed by the mayor. The appointment is subject to City Council which means they could delay until the election in February.
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