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Where does he really live?

Tuesday, Jun 10, 2014

* Oy

State Sen. Napoleon Harris owns a house befitting a former NFL linebacker and successful businessman: a $400,000 residence in an upscale subdivision in south suburban Flossmoor.

But Harris says he lives and votes from 10 miles away in blighted Harvey, residing in a town house on the pothole-pitted stretch of road that runs behind a strip mall that houses his district office and one of his Beggar’s Pizza franchises. […]

Recent visits to the town house showed the shades drawn shut or blocked by newspapers and campaign signs taped to the glass. The city Water Department said water service had been activated in April but would not say whose name was on the account or how long the building had been without water previously. A building permit for “patching holes,” which expired in May, was posted in the front window. […]

When it comes to his upcoming election, barring a lawsuit, Harris’ residency may not even matter. He is running unopposed for his second term. Any challenge to the residency of a candidate must take place during the run-up to the primary election, and Harris’ address has not been challenged in either of his runs for the 15th District seat, said Ken Menzel, deputy general counsel for the state Board of Elections.

On a recent afternoon, a woman answered the door of Harris’ Flossmoor house, but declined to give her name. The woman, who strongly resembled photos posted online of the senator’s wife, Nicole, said the senator was not home.


* Look, residency is a tricky thing here. It’s all about intent, as we learned during the Rahm Emanuel ordeal. But according to the Tribune, Harris’ drivers license still lists his outside the district address. And he’s still getting a homestead exemption on that same out of district house.

And there’s also the issue of his statement of candidacy. Candidates must swear an oath that their residency information is true and that they are a “qualified voter” in the district. Get caught blatantly violating that oath and you can go to prison.

Remember this story?

A state lawmaker who didn’t live in the district she represents was found guilty of using fake addresses on re-election paperwork and voter registration cards, and must resign.

Rep. Patricia Bailey was found guilty Tuesday of election fraud and perjury after a one-day trial.

“You never had a heat, electric, a telephone, a cable bill,” Cook County Judge Diane Gordon-Cannon told the Chicago Democrat. “You never lived for 30 minutes inside your district.”

Bailey, 52, first elected in 2002, faces up to five years in prison when sentenced Dec. 21. She wouldn’t comment as she left the courtroom.

Bailey’s downfall came when it was revealed that there wasn’t even a liveable residence at the address she used on her statement of candidacy.

Many moons ago, former state Rep. Ellis Levin faced accusations that he didn’t live in his district. The apartment where he supposedly lived was pretty much empty. He eventually survived the residency challenge (if memory serves, he lost the first round, because I ran the headline “Levin gets the hook”), but he lost his primary to Sara Feigenholtz.

So, again, it’s about intent and state law is pretty darned lenient. Bailey couldn’t actually intend to live in a place that didn’t actually exist. You gotta go pretty far to violate that particular law here. It doesn’t look like Harris has gone that far.

But, still, Sen. Harris really should, um, “address” this issue. And soon.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - 47th Ward - Tuesday, Jun 10, 14 @ 2:46 pm:

    Home is where the heart is. Where does he keep his underwear?

  2. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Tuesday, Jun 10, 14 @ 2:49 pm:

    You got me Rich.

    Saw the headline, thought it was a Rauner story :)

  3. - Upon Further Review - Tuesday, Jun 10, 14 @ 2:51 pm:

    Napoleon Harris was able to first be elected because as the remap process had just been completed a candidate from any place in the former district was eligible to run. He was supposed to have moved into the new district within six months.

    In the recent 2014 primary, there was a judicial candidate who owned two houses (city and suburb) and he moved into the newly purchased suburban house to run for office.

    It is tougher for the legislative candidates because (outside of a redistricting year) there is a residential duration requirement.

  4. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Jun 10, 14 @ 2:52 pm:

    Didn’t Ald. Tom Lyons claim to live in a room above his ward office, while maintaining a “summer home” in Glenview?

  5. - Upon Further Review - Tuesday, Jun 10, 14 @ 3:03 pm:


    Your memory is correct. Lyons had an apartment in Chicago and a large house in the suburbs.

    Former Chicago City Clerk John Marcin also had a preferred home near Wisconsin, which he used on an almost daily basis. When Mayor Bilandic dropped Marcin from his slate, Marcin filed for alderman in the 35th Ward, where he was also the ward committeeman. He ran against his former ally, Alderman Casimir Laskowski, who was also a funeral parlor operator. Laskowski’s motto was “I will be the last man to let you down.” When Marcin filed for alderman, Laskowski challenged his residency. When asked why he had never objected earlier, Laskowski answered “He’s never run against me before.” Marcin also owned a seldom used house in the ward and won the aldermanic office.

  6. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Jun 10, 14 @ 3:10 pm:

    It isn’t about him.
    It is about his wife.

    You want to start a family in that district when you can afford Flossmoor? Which schools would you want your kids to attend? Which town would you feel safest?

    She didn’t respond positively when he was reached at their home. She may very well not be on board this entire political career move of his. Did she intend to marry a politician?

    Harris is quite the guy and an inspiration for Dixmoor. But he has to convince his wife that investing in a family home near the Thornton Stone Quarry is right for them. Could be a tough sell.

  7. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jun 10, 14 @ 3:16 pm:

    ===She may very well not be===

    Dude, you do not know of where you tread. Walk away. Fast. Napo still has some moves.

  8. - Joe M - Tuesday, Jun 10, 14 @ 3:20 pm:

    The Illinois Executive Mansion is the official residence of the Governor of Illinois. But some governors have instead “lived” in Chicago - as have many of the statewide office holders.

  9. - OneMan - Tuesday, Jun 10, 14 @ 3:23 pm:

    Depending on the ages of their kids, suffice to say HF was a much better school than any of the Thorns as it were (I went to one) sure that is just as true if not more so today.

  10. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jun 10, 14 @ 3:27 pm:

    ===The Illinois Executive Mansion is the official residence of the Governor of Illinois===

    No, it’s not. Man, some of you Spfld types wanna bring that up in every discussion.

  11. - lil enchilada - Tuesday, Jun 10, 14 @ 3:34 pm:

    It’s okay for Federal candidates and officials, like Bobby Schilling, to live outside their district. Is that a state issue?

  12. - siriusly - Tuesday, Jun 10, 14 @ 3:45 pm:

    It’s a political issue, not a legal one. He’s got an apartment in a building he owns. I think he can probably prove enough to survive any challenge.

  13. - Charlie Wheeler - Tuesday, Jun 10, 14 @ 3:51 pm:

    Point of information

    In 1977, the Illinois House voted to remove Rep. Peg Breslin, a Serena Democrat, because at the time of her 1976 election she had not been a resident of her district for the required two years. Although she grew up in Ottawa, she had been living in Chicago before running for office.

    After her removal, Democratic party leaders in the 38th district appointed her to fill the vacancy. The appointment was not seriously challenged, because by then she had been living in the district for the required time.

    Charlie Wheeler

  14. - Amalia - Tuesday, Jun 10, 14 @ 3:55 pm:

    The pizza man doesn’t know where to deliver.

  15. - Upon Further Review - Tuesday, Jun 10, 14 @ 4:20 pm:

    @lil enchilada:

    Under the Federal constitution, Representatives in the US House need only be residents of the states in which their congressional districts are located. Rod R. Blagojevich served in Congress for a period, representing the 5th Congressional District, while his home was in the 4th Congressional District. It was legal, but it does sometimes rub voters the wrong way. He eventually moved to a new address.

  16. - Joe M - Tuesday, Jun 10, 14 @ 4:22 pm:

    ==No, it’s not. Man, some of you Spfld types wanna bring that up in every discussion.+

    “The Mansion has served as the official residence of Illinois’ governors and their families since Governor Joel Matteson took up residence there in 1855.” - from an official Illinois Government News Network press release in 2000.

    Press releases don’t lie do they?

  17. - Upon Further Review - Tuesday, Jun 10, 14 @ 4:26 pm:

    It is not obligatory for the governor to reside in the Executive Mansion. Blagojevich was in Chicago at his own house for most of his 1-1/2 terms.

    Thompson resided in Springfield on a part-time basis. Was Dwight Green or Adlai Stevenson the last governor who lived there full-time?

  18. - OneMan - Tuesday, Jun 10, 14 @ 4:41 pm:

    Press releases don’t lie do they?

    See Blagojevich and the use of the word coincidence by press staff….

  19. - dupage dan - Tuesday, Jun 10, 14 @ 5:02 pm:

    Um, I would think that the candidate must be a resident in the “district” in which he intends to serve. Last time I checked, the city of Chicago lies within the boundaries of the “district” of Illinois. An elected official isn’t bound to live in a particular residence in the district, is (s)he?

  20. - Chris - Tuesday, Jun 10, 14 @ 5:24 pm:

    “the official residence of Illinois’ governors”

    That’s different from “legal residence”, no?

  21. - The Prince - Tuesday, Jun 10, 14 @ 5:29 pm:

    He’s obviously living in Flossmoor. I do not think anything will happen to him, though.

  22. - capjunkie - Tuesday, Jun 10, 14 @ 7:14 pm:

    This isn’t the same as Rahm’s issue. Article 4, Section 2(c) of the Illinois Constitution says the following: “To be eligible to serve as a member of the General Assembly, a person must be a United States citizen, at least 21 years old, and for the two years preceding his election or appointment a resident of the district which he is to represent. In the general election following a redistricting, a candidate for the General Assembly may be elected from any district which contains a part of the district in which he resided at the time of the redistricting and reelected if a resident of the new district he represents for 18 months prior to reelection.”

    That means you have to live in the district to which you are elected, but you have a window to move after redistricting. If he is reelected, his residency becomes an issue of qualifications.

    Section 6(d) says: “Each house shall determine the rules of its proceedings, judge the elections, returns and qualifications of its members and choose its officers.”

    The Senate would have the ability to determine whether he is qualified to remain in office based on residency. I believe Pat Bailey went through this.

  23. - Observing - Wednesday, Jun 11, 14 @ 6:35 am:

    Many moons ago a local attorney/GOP officer and committeeman claimed the 3rd floor of his law office as his residence for purposes of holding the precinct committeeman position. He referred to his southwest side Springfield ‘home’ as his social residence.

  24. - DuPage Bard - Wednesday, Jun 11, 14 @ 8:30 am:

    Former Mayor of Bensenville, Geils, had a residence in Oakbrook that he admitted his wife and kids lived at plus a golf course in Wisconsin he owned and stayed at quite frequently. Many attempts to prove he didn’t actually live at the house he owned in Bensenville failed through his long tenure were disregarded.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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