Fighting ignorance since 1973 Its taking longer than we thought
Does Rahm meet the residency requirements
to run for mayor?
Now there seem to be a bunch of challenges to Rahm's eligibility, based on his lack of residency in our fair city for the last two years. I've heard many arguments on both sides of this question. What's the straight dope? What exactly are the residency requirements? Does he meet them? And if he doesn't, does he have the clout to get approved anyway?
Tim R. Mortiss, via the Straight Dope Chicago Message Board
Cecil Adams replies:
This is the most ridiculous controversy to come down the pike in, oh, a good two months. For example, John Kass writes:
Please, spare me the melodrama. While wacky things have been known to happen in Illinois courts, under any reasonable reading the law squarely favors Rahm.
Let's review. There are two laws applying to Rahm's situation. My friend Greg Hinz says one is a city law and one is a state law. Not so they're both state laws. If you read only the first one, things look bad for Rahm. Here's what Section 3.1-10-5 of the Illinois Municipal Code says:
Rahm did not, of course, live in Chicago for at least one year prior to the election. As one of the petitions objecting to his spot on the ballot states, he moved with his family to Washington, D.C., where he served as Obama's chief of staff from January 2009 till October 2010.
The petition goes on to say:
I'm sorry, that's crap. Let's turn to the second law. Chapter 36, Section 3.2(a) of the Illinois Compiled Statutes includes the following provision:
Does this second law contradict the first law? Of course not; it merely provides an exception. A number of states have provisions like this in their election statutes. For example, the law in Georgia says:
Georgia's law is more explicit than what we've got in Illinois. Nonetheless, it seems clear the Illinois election code is meant to cover similar situations: if you go to work at the White House, or become an ambassador, or perform some comparable public service, you retain your state residency during your absence. It's not necessary to delve into who's currently renting your house or any other such nonsense.
Attorney Burt Odelson, who has filed a challenge to have Rahm removed from the ballot, doesn't see it that way. He's been quoted as saying:
Get out. This is a perverse reading of the law. If the drafters meant "business of the United States, or of this State" to apply to military service only, they'd have said so. Illinois statutes contain numerous references to the rights of military personnel on active duty. It would have been simple to include such wording in the electoral code if the residency exemption was meant to apply strictly to those in the armed forces.
But Cecil, you object. How can you presume to know with certainty what was in the minds, such as they are, of Illinois legislators?
I don't have to know. I merely note the following:
Is it possible? In Bizarro World, which Chicago admittedly resembles at times, anything's possible. In our sector of the galaxy, no.
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