Rahm Emanuel allowed on ballot

December 23, 2010

City Room

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(WBEZ/Bill Healy)
Rahm Emanuel greets diners in downtown Chicago Thursday afternoon

Rahm Emanuel will be allowed to have his name on the February ballot to run for Chicago mayor.

Thursday morning, the Chicago Board of Election unanimously gave its approval to allow Emanuel on the ballot.

Several objectors say Emanuel's political clout played a role in the decision, but Burt Odelson, an attorney trying to kick Emanuel off the ballot, stopped short of saying politics was a factor.

"Though he may not have, in his mind, abandoned his residence, he did. I mean, legally, he did," Odelson said. "He signed the lease, people are living there, he's not here. It's really quite simple."

Odelson said he will appeal the decision. He expects the challenge to go through the courts in the next five weeks.

Emanuel's attorneys say under the facts of the case, the same decision would've come down whether Emanuel were the White House chief of staff or a cook in the White House kitchen.

At a restaurant downtown, Emanuel said he's ready to focus on issues affecting voters.

"They saw that I had worked for President Obama, that I owned a home here, payed property taxes here, that I was a congressman from here," Emanuel said. "They made a decision. And the voters deserve the right to make their decision."

The board's decision comes after a recommendation was issued by the hearing officer late Wednesday night.

Joseph Morris ran the hearings over Emanue''s residency requirements, hearing from dozens of objectors. In his decision, Morris got into the nitty gritty of how the law defines a residence. Morris wrote the heart of the issue is whether Emanuel abandoned his North Side home more than a year before the upcoming municipal election when Emanuel went to Washington, D.C. to work in the White House.

But Morris wrote since Emanuel still owns the house, has a driver's license with that address on it, votes in elections based on that address, banks with that address and still has boxes of his things at that address, he's considered a resident of Chicago.