The possibility raised by his Democratic rivals that Eric Adams, the Brooklyn borough president, lives in New Jersey, and not in Brooklyn as he has maintained, raises the issue of whether he is legally eligible to become New York City’s next mayor.
The law seems to say: Yes he can.
For one, even if he did live in New Jersey, state law only says that he has to be living in New York City on Election Day in November, according to the state’s board of elections.
It’s not disputed that Mr. Adams owns a multiunit townhouse on Lafayette Avenue, in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, which he says is his primary residence; the focus of the news media’s recent interest is how many days and nights he spends there, versus at a property he owns in New Jersey.
The text of the state law governing residency states that “residence” means a “place where a person maintains a fixed, permanent and principal home and to which he, wherever temporarily located, always intends to return.” Election law experts said courts have generally been generous in interpreting what residency means for candidates.
Courts have typically allowed candidates to have two residences, and they can select one as their “political home,” said Martin Connor, an election lawyer who was a state senator for 30 years until 2008.
Mr. Connor said courts have at times allowed people to claim a place as their residence even if they stay there only two nights a week. He said that Mr. Adams staying with his girlfriend in New Jersey “doesn’t obviate his Brooklyn residence.”
“Usually you’re OK if you got an apartment, you got a bed, you got a refrigerator, particularly if you own the building,” he said.