Judge calls Philly home for state rep with 2 houses

Posted: April 02, 2014

A COMMONWEALTH COURT judge has rejected a residency challenge that sought to knock state Rep. Pam DeLissio off the May 20 Democratic primary-election ballot in the 194th District.

Senior Judge Rochelle Friedman ruled yesterday that DeLissio's "domicile" is her Philadelphia home, even though the two-term legislator listed her Harrisburg town house as her "primary residence" in 2009 for a homestead exemption that granted her a small property-tax discount.

"It is well settled that a candidate's place of residence for purposes of the Election Code is 'the residence . . . in which his [or her] habitation is fixed, and to which, whenever he [or she] is absent, he [or she] has the intention of returning,' " Friedman wrote in her six-page ruling.

DeLissio's driver's license, car registration and insurance also listed her Harrisburg address until she changed them to her Philadelphia address last week.

Voters Sean Stevens and Nicholas DiPiero challenged DeLissio's nomination petitions.

The state Constitution requires a candidate to live in the district for one year before the election.

DeLissio, who has owned a home in Philadelphia since 1997, testified last week: "There is no doubt in my mind that Philadelphia is and has been my permanent residence."

DeLissio is seeking a third two-year term in the 194th District, which stretches from East Falls to Roxborough.

Kevin Greenberg, attorney for voters who challenged DeLissio, called it "amazing that a state representative can claim to be from Philadelphia while registering her car and paying insurance as a Harrisburg resident, having her driver's license in Harrisburg, taking a homestead exemption in Harrisburg, and paying wage taxes to Dauphin County and not Philadelphia."

Her primary opponent, Dave Henderson, said her actions "don't pass the smell test."

"It's fair for people to question if it was all about avoiding city wage taxes and high auto-insurance rates," Henderson said in an emailed statement. "Voters are smart. They won't soon forget this self-serving deception."

On Twitter: @ChrisBrennanDN

Blog: ph.ly/PhillyClout.com

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