Decision soon on witnesses in Emanuel ballot change

December 10, 2010

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(WBEZ/Sam Hudzik)
The first hearing was held Monday in a basement conference room below the election board offices.

Key decisions are expected Friday in the fight over whether Rahm Emanuel is eligible to run for Chicago mayor. A city election official will hold a late morning hearing to decide who will be called as witnesses.

Emanuel himself is expected to testify next week. His lawyers also want to call the candidate's friends and neighbors to testify.

The case is mostly about residency: whether Emanuel, by renting out his Chicago house after moving to Washington to work at the White House, is eligible to run for mayor.

The election attorney at the center of the objection to Emanuel's candidacy, Burt Odelson, has a witness wish list of his own. He wants to call the couple who rented out Emanuel's house, plus real estate brokers involved in the deal and Emanuel's wife. Odelson is also requesting loads of documents from the candidate including tax returns, his kid's school applications and utility bills.

The decision on which witnesses and what evidence will be allowed falls to the hearing officer, Joseph A. Morris. This is among the first steps in a long ballot battle that's expected to last weeks.