Longtime Chicago Ald. Ricardo Munoz announces his retirement, picks successor

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago City Council's longest-serving Hispanic alderman is calling it quits. Ricardo Munoz is retiring after 25 years in office. The 22nd Ward alderman is most proud of the $5 billion worth of infrastructure projects he brought to his working class ward, which includes parts of Little Village.

"I've built five new grammar schools, one new high school, two libraries, a police station, a daycare center, and a YMCA, all within two miles of each other," said Munoz.

The 53-year-old retiring alderman got his start in city council at just 24 years old when then Ald. Jesus "Chuy" Garcia hired Munoz as his chief of staff. In 1993, Mayor Richard M. Daley appointed Munoz to replace Garcia when he left for the Illinois Senate. Yet, over the years, Munoz often clashed with Daley and Mayor Rahm Emanuel on issues.

"We always agree to disagree, but cordially," said Munoz.

He says the key to surviving two tough mayors is not being afraid.

"Too many of my colleagues don't have a thick enough skin, they take things personally," said Munoz.

Developing a thick skin is the advice Munoz plans to give the person elected to replace him. His choice is 22nd Ward Committeeman Michael Rodriguez, who currently works for Cook County.

While Munoz says he is leaving council on top, there have been some rough patches along the way, including the arrest of his estranged father for a fake ID ring. For years, Munoz has struggled with alcoholism. Now sober, he looks forward to his next chapter of life that may include a return to city hall.

"I'm going to get some experience as an executive, run an organization, deal with budgets and deal with staff and who knows, I may run for mayor in 2023," said Munoz.

The alderman plans to serve out his term. Munoz says he has a number of options after leaving council. He may work for JB Pritzker, if elected governor, a Latino non-profit or an agency building a hospital in his ward.
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