Ald. Ricardo Munoz will not run for reelection he said Monday but the long-serving member of the Chicago City Council tantalizingly opened the door to running for mayor in five years.
“I’m only 53, I can run for mayor in 2023 if I want to,” he said during an exclusive interview at his Little Village office.
Asked if that was a teaser, Munoz replied, “Take it as you like.”
Sworn into office in 1993, Munoz was appointed alderman by then mayor Richard Daley to replace Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, who moved on to the Illinois state senate.
Now after a quarter of a century of voting on budgets and answering constituent complaints, Munoz will depart the council in May, when the new council is sworn in.
“It’s time for me to move on and write the next chapter of my life," he said.
A member of the Council’s Progressive Caucus, Munoz said his 22nd Ward organization will meet Wednesday to hear from candidates who wish to replace him. But he also said no one from his family will apply, as often is the case in the 50-member City Council where succession and nepotism can go hand in glove.
“There will be no one of the Munoz lineage in contention for my succession plan,” he said. “I don’t suffer from 'founderitis' or 'incumbentitis' like some guys in politics like Burke that want to be there forever,” he said referencing long time 14th Ward Ald. Ed Burke.
Munoz entered the council chamber in 1993 amid controversy he created himself. He publicly talked about his arrest as a teenager on drug and gun charges, which were later expunged.
“I did come clean and say that I had been arrested. It was news back then, it’s not news anymore. Ric Munoz grew up.”
Eight years ago, he again publicly talked about a personal issue: his addiction to alcohol. Sober today, he does not minimize the struggle.
“I’m sober. It’s been since last September when I had the last slip up,” he said. “I came clean because I wanted to tell people about my struggle,” he said. “We took alcohol and mental health out of the shadow.”
On a walk through his Little Village ward, he points to new schools and playgrounds as his biggest accomplishment, in a ward where the median age is 21.
He is not immune to constituent complaints, as was the case of the woman who chided him over a mess left by dogs on a new soccer field.
Munoz’s announcement comes at a time when Hispanic voting power is increasing and progressives have flexed their political muscle. In the March primary, incumbent Assessor Joe Berrios was defeated by the progressive-backed Fritz Kaegi and state representative Dan Burke---brother of alderman Ed Burke---was defeated by political neophyte Aaron Ortiz, with the assistance of Munoz’s ward organization.
Munoz said he is weighing several job opportunities outside the political arena but will continue to be involved.
“I’m not leaving politics, I’m not retiring from public service, I’m just retiring as alderman.”