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Ald. Ricardo Munoz to retire from City Council after a quarter century

Ald. Ricardo Munoz (22nd). | Sun-Times

Ald. Ricardo Munoz (22nd). | Sun-Times

Ald. Ricardo Munoz, who has represented the 22nd Ward in the City Council for 25 years, on Monday announced his plans to retire at the end of his term.

Munoz, whose ward includes the Little Village and Archer Heights neighborhoods on the Southwest Side, made the announcement in an interview with NBC’s Carol Marin. He said he’d retire in May 2019.

In a statement released Monday evening, Munoz said he was “deeply humbled” by what he and his constituents were able to accomplish in the ward under his leadership. He specifically pointed to the construction of six new schools, a new library, police station and “more than $5 billion in infrastructure and public amenities construction over the course of my term in office.”

“I have always sought to be an independent voice who puts the needs of working people above all else, and I know the 22nd Ward will continue that legacy,” Munoz said in the statement.

Munoz, 53, was passed over last month in the scramble to replace former Ald. Mike Zalewski (23rd) as chairman of the City Council Aviation Committee.

While the Aviation Committee budget is a meager $109,496 per year, the position is crucial in light of the $8.5 billion O’Hare Airport expansion project that is expected to net a host of jobs and contracts.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel ultimately selected Ald. Matt O’Shea (19th) for the job.

A longtime ally of Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, Munoz briefly ran to replace Garcia on the Cook County Board of Commissioners when Garcia announced his plans to replace outgoing U.S. Luis Gutierrez in the U.S. Congress. Garcia’s aide Alma Anaya ultimately won the nomination.

Former Mayor Richard M. Daley introduces four newly appointed members of the city Council. From left: aldermen Billy Ocasio Dexter G. Watson. Ricardo Munoz and Madeline Halthcock. | Sun-Times file

Munoz — who is fourth in City Council seniority — was appointed to the Council by former Mayor Richard M. Daley in 1993 to replace Garcia when he was elected to the Illinois state Senate.

When he was appointed to the Council at age 27, Munoz was a former gang member with convictions for cocaine possession and unlawful use of a weapon.

Speaking with the Sun-Times shortly after his appointment, Munoz said: “After I straightened out my act, I could have moved with my family to suburbia, but I didn’t. I wanted to make a difference in the community where I grew up, where my entire family lives. All I can ask now is that people take a look at who Ricardo Munoz is now, not who he was back then.”

In 2012, Munoz unsuccessfully ran to replace Dorothy Brown, clerk of the Cook County Circuit Court.

Speaking with Marin, Munoz teased that he may not be totally done with politics.

“I’m only 53. I can run for mayor in 2023 if I want,” he said.