Michael Rodriguez defeated three other candidates outright to win election as the 22nd Ward's first new alderman in more than 25 years.
Rodriguez earned 63.9 percent of the vote with 100 percent of the precincts reporting Tuesday night, according to the Chicago Board of Elections. That was enough to avoid a runoff election for the open seat vacated by Ald. Ricardo Munoz.
Munoz announced in July that he would not seek re-election after serving since his appointment to the office in 1993, when he replaced now-Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia after his departure for the Illinois Senate.
The race to replace Munoz was one of several across the city in which Garcia is involved.
Rodriguez, the 22nd Ward Democratic commiteeman, was the chosen candidate of both Munoz and Garcia. Rodriguez is the executive officer of the Cook County medical examiner’s office and previously worked as director of Enlace Chicago, a nonprofit organization aimed at violence prevention.
He handily defeated three others: Lisette “Liz” Lopez, Richard Juarez and Neftalie Gonzalez.
Lopez is an outreach director for Oak Street Health, a health clinic for seniors on Medicare. She previously worked for the Illinois Department of Human Services and the Women Infant and Children program and founded Imago Dei, a young violence prevention program. She came in second with 13.8 percent of the vote.
Juarez is currently the director of long-term services and support at Lawndale Christian Health Center, a nonprofit health organization. He took 12.5 percent of the vote, putting him in third.
Gonzalez is a former Chicago police officer who founded nonprofit organization OpportUnity‐OportUnidad, focused on employment opportunities. Gonzalez ran against Munoz in both 2011 and 2015, earning 36 percent and then 13 percent of the vote, respectively. This time, he finished last with just 9.8 percent of the vote.
All four candidates called on Munoz to step down before the end of his term, after the longtime alderman was charged with domestic battery for an alleged attack on his wife on New Year’s Eve.
Munoz, who has been open about his past gang ties and battle with alcoholism, checked into an Indiana rehabilitation facility in January but has said he has no intention of resigning. The Southwest Side ward includes parts of the Little Village, South Lawndale and Archer Heights neighborhoods.