Come this fall, Moreno Valley school board member Mike Rios may juggle court appearances with campaign fundraisers.
Rios, who is facing criminal charges of attempted murder, rape, pimping and pandering, has taken the first step to run for Moreno Valley City Council. Officials said Rios pulled nomination papers on Tuesday to run in District 1 against Councilman Jesse Molina.
The news shocked some, who had no idea Rios resided in the central district. But others expected the move. They've been working to recall Rios from the school board, which could further tarnish his bid for office.
"He will stop at nothing to get on that City Council," said Nina Hiers, president of the Democratic Club of Moreno Valley. "Because of all the allegations, we want to make sure that the city of Moreno Valley is protected from a candidate like this."
Rios could not be reached for comment.
The club first was introduced to Rios when he ran for District 3 in the 2008 elections. Though Rios ran as a Democrat, he was not endorsed by the party. He lost the bid.
He later ran for and won a seat on the Moreno Valley Unified School Board.
But in February, Rios was arrested on attempted murder charges after he allegedly fired at a car passing by his home. He was released on bail and returned to the board. His colleagues and community members urged him to resign.
Two months later, he was arrested on suspicion of raping two women, pimping and using his position as a school board member to recruit prostitutes, some of whom were minors.
If convicted, he could face a life sentence. He was released on $250,000 bail.
After his arrest, the Democratic Club started an official recall effort. Members have collected 200 signatures, including those of every council member. A recall requires 10,000 signatures by October.
When Molina heard that Rios was running in his district, he thought it was a joke, he said. But the city clerk verified that Rios has a home in the area.
"I think Mr. Rios should focus on his upcoming trial instead of running for office," Molina said.
City Council candidates have until Aug. 9 to file for candidacy. Rios has his next court appearance set for the following day.