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Court orders Emanuel off mayoral ballot

By Kristen Mack
Chicago Tribune reporter

Rahm Emanuel should not appear on the Feb. 22 mayoral ballot, according to a ruling issued by a state appellate court today.

Emanuel told a news conference he would appeal the decision to the Illinois Supreme Court and would ask for an injunction so his name will appear on the mayoral ballot.

“We’ll now go to the next level to get clarity,” Emanuel said.

In a 2-1 ruling, the appellate panel said Emanuel does not meet the residency requirement of having lived in Chicago for a year prior to the election. The judges reversed a decision by the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners, which had unanimously agreed that Emanuel was eligible to run for mayor.

"We conclude that the candidate neither meets the Municipal Code's requirement that he have 'resided in' Chicago for the year preceding the election in which he seeks to participate nor falls within any exception to the requirement," the majority judges wrote.

"Accordingly, we disagree with the Board's conclusion that he is eligible to run for the office of Mayor of the City of Chicago. We reverse the circuit court's judgment confirming the Board's decision, set aside the Board's decision and ... order that the candidate's name be excluded (or, if necessary, removed) from the ballot."

The majority opinion was written by Appellate Justice Thomas E. Hoffman and concurred with by Presiding Appellate Justice Shelvin Louise Marie Hall.
Appellate Justice Bertina E. Lampkin wrote a dissenting opinion.

"I disagree with the majority's contrary conclusion that the candidate is not eligible to be on the ballot because that conclusion is based on an analysis of two issues --- establishing residency and a statutory exemption to the residency requirement --- that are not relevant to the resolution of this case."

Emanuel's campaign has not commented on the ruling, but previously both sides in the case said they planned to appeal the case all the way to the Illinois Supreme Court.

Time is of the essence, however. Early voting starts a week from today on Jan. 31.

The appellate court judges heard the case last week.

Opponents say Emanuel doesn't meet the one-year residency requirement because he was in Washington serving as President Barack Obama’s chief of staff.

Before today, Emanuel had won rulings by the election board and in Cook County Circuit Court. Today’s ruling seems certain to be appealed to the Illinois Supreme Court.