CHICAGO — Former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel does meet state residency requirements and can remain on the ballot for Chicago mayor, according to a Chicago Board of Election Commissioners ruling Thursday.
The ruling came after the three-member board heard final arguments in the challenge to Emanuel’s Chicago residency because he has spent much of the last two years living in Washington, D.C.
The ruling followed a recommendation released early Thursday by a hearing officer proposing that Emanuel remain on the ballot in the Feb. 22 race to replace retiring Mayor Richard Daley.
Illinois law requires candidates to have lived in the city for one year before the election.
Objectors argued that Emanuel did not qualify because he moved back to Chicago only after Daley declared in October that he would not seek re-election to a seventh term.
Emanuel convinced the board that his relocation from Chicago to Washington was temporary, and that he and his family had always intended to return to their home on the city’s north side.
“Illinois law expressly protects the residential status and electoral rights of Illinois residents who are called to serve the national government,” hearing officer Joseph Morris wrote in his report to the commissioners.
“It affirms what I have said all along, that the only reason I left town was to serve President Obama and that I always intended to return,” Emanuel said in a statement after the hearing officer’s report was released early Thursday.
The vote does not the end the challenge. Objectors said they plan to appeal the decision to the Cook County Circuit Court.
Emanuel leads the most recent polls in a crop of candidates that includes former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun, Rep. Danny Davis, D-Ill., former Chicago Public Schools school president Gery Chico, city clerk Miguel del Valle and state Sen. James Meeks, D-Chicago.