The youngest member of the City Council when he joined at 27-years-old, Rick Munoz has become a dominant voice for reform in Chicago politics. His battles against City Hall corruption have led the Chicago Tribune and the New York Times to call him a political force and an independent voice on the City Council. NBC has called him the only real independent alderman, and the Huffington Post describes him as “widely popular, especially among progressives and independents.” Voters in his district re-elected him last year with 64 percent of the vote.
Rick opposed City Council plans to vote themselves big pay increases in 1995 and 1999. Not only did he vote against the pay hikes, he refused to accept them when they passed. Rick gave away more than $90,000 from his salary to churches, YMCAs, Boys and Girls Clubs, Little League baseball and thousands of needy families.
Rick has earned his reputation for independence and integrity. He was one of just 7 aldermen who stood up to Mayor Daley more than 30 percent of the time, during the last Council, and he was one of just 2 aldermen who never asked Mayor Daley for a patronage job, according to the Chicago Reporter.
Corrupt organizations, like HDO, funded by Hired Truck bribe money spent over $100,000 trying to defeat Rick Munoz, so they could silence his calls for reform. They failed every time.
Rick outlawed the practice of awarding sweetheart public contracts to high-ranking city officials, and he voted for tougher penalties on aldermen caught violating the city’s ethics statutes. Rick also sponsored a law forcing politicians to turn over campaign money received from people hoping to bribe them to the taxpayers of the city. It passed in committee and then was never reported out to the floor.
As a young freshman alderman, Rick arrived in the City Council determined to do something about the education crisis facing his community. Boys and girls were going to classes in cramped rooms and even hallways, because school overcrowding was so severe. Bureaucrats at the Board of Education and City Hall told the new alderman nothing could be done to help.
Rick started talking to people, doing his homework and working to persuade his colleagues. Together they came up with a solution that raised millions of dollars for new school construction -- without raising taxes. The solution turned out to be as simple as expanding the city’s bonding authority to include the Board of Education.
“Give credit to Ald. Ricardo Munoz for constantly pushing new ideas,” said the Tribune after his school funding proposal was adopted. “He works hard, his enthusiasm is contagious and his efforts are paying off.” (Source: Chicago Tribune, 1999.) Rick has continued to be a citywide leader on education, overseeing the construction of more new schools in his neighborhood than any other throughout the state.