Feb 13, 2023 - Politics

Chicago mayoral candidate Paul Vallas faces residency questions

Guy on a bridge

Mayoral candidate Paul Vallas on a downtown bridge in 2022. Photo: E. Jason Wambsgans/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Mayoral front-runner Paul Vallas is disputing allegations that he resides outside Chicago, in Palos Heights.

What's happening: The Vallas family has been claiming tax exemptions on their home in the south suburb, while his voter registration documents show him living in Chicago's Bridgeport neighborhood.

Be smart: The address you use for your exemption and voter registration must be your "primary residence." And you can't have two.

What they're saying: "Vallas is a full-time resident of Chicago — that is where he lives and works," a campaign spokesperson told Axios.

  • His campaign says he rented the Bridgeport apartment in January 2022. Vallas says his wife and mother live in the Palos Heights house.

The latest: The Cook County Assessor office tells Axios it investigated and found the exemption to be legal because Vallas' wife "lives there and owns the property."

Why it matters: Vallas' one year in Bridgeport meets Chicago's residency requirement to run for mayor. But for voters who are often dubious of outsiders (especially suburbanites) criticizing the city, it's raising questions about where he actually spends his time.

  • And Vallas has thrown plenty of city-directed shade in a campaign that highlights "out of control" crime.
  • The situation faintly echoes last year's governor's race when Republican Darren Bailey called the city a "hellhole," even though he didn't live here.

Between the lines: After stints as the CEO of CPS and Chicago's budget director, Vallas left the city for jobs in Philadelphia, New Orleans and Connecticut.

  • "He has lived outside the city due to various positions in other cities over the years, but has always maintained his close connection to the community," his campaign said in a statement.

Flashback: In 2010, opponents of then-mayoral hopeful Rahm Emanuel challenged his eligibility based on residency. After a long battle, the court deemed Emanuel eligible — and he won in 2011.

  • In this case, though, the challenge deadline has passed. So, ultimately any residency questions will be decided by the voters.

Thought bubble: I'm not sure a residency scandal will affect Vallas' campaign, since he's running on lowering crime.

  • But it does make a difference if the person complaining about the crime lives here full time or not. It just does.

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