Beltrante
Beltrante

A judge's ruling Wednesday means it's a two-woman race for the Democratic nomination to be York City's next mayor.

The man who declared in a courtroom Tuesday that he has "absolutely no desire to live in York City" does not, in fact, meet the residency requirements to be the city's mayor, according to York County President Common Pleas Judge Stephen P. Linebaugh.

The judge's order kicks Joe Beltrante off the May 21 primary ballot, which he had hoped to share with incumbent Mayor Kim Bracey and York City Council President Carol Hill-Evans. Those two women will now compete for Democrats' nomination in a heavily left-leaning city.

Linebaugh's ruling grants the request of city residents Meg Hill-Grigson and Charlotte Bergdoll, who filed a petition last week arguing Beltrante is not eligible to be mayor because he hasn't lived in the city long enough.

At a hearing Tuesday, Beltrante admitted having "no desire" to live in the city. But, he said, since 2011 he's lived at 620 S. Queen St., a property he bought in 2009 with the intention of renting it out like the eight or nine other homes he owns in York City.

But, several attempts to rent the property were unsuccessful. Only criminals wanted to live there, Beltrante said.

Leaving it vacant wasn't a choice, he said, because criminals "would gut it."

So, Beltrante said, he moved into the property about two years ago to prevent his asset from falling into ruin.

Meanwhile, Beltrante said, his wife and young son live in Manchester Township. The couple is not legally separated.

After the hearing, Beltrante said he would sell 620 S. Queen St. "in a heartbeat" for $40,000.

The law requires mayoral candidates to have lived in the city at least one year "immediately preceding his election."

In his ruling, Linebaugh cited a 1954 case that explored the question of permanent versus temporary residence. Linebaugh found that Beltrante's residence is 708 Aslan Court in Manchester Township "because it is the fixed, final and permanent home to which he intends to return."

Reached by phone Wednesday, Beltrante said is "definitely disappointed with the ruling."

"I guess you could say that I was surprised to learn that my primary residence is a place that I don't physically reside at," he said.

Beltrante said he "probably won't" appeal the judge's order. But, he added, voters might regret Linebaugh's decision.

"Residents over the next couple of years will look back and say, 'What if this guy was elected?'" Beltrante said. "They're certainly looking at more double-digit tax increases. I see the choice between Kim Bracey and Carol Hill-Evans as basically Kim Bracey No. 1 or Kim Bracey No. 2."

Bracey and Hill-Evans could not be immediately reached for comment Wednesday.

- Erin James may also be reached at ejames@yorkdispatch.com.