A last-minute ruling by a state Court of Appeals judge Thursday means Jonathan Yeo can continue his run for Newton School Committee.
The ruling caps weeks of controversy about whether Yeo meets the residency requirement to run for office, and overturns a decision last week in the Middlesex Superior Court that would have struck Yeo’s name from the Ward 2 School Committee ballot.
However, a lawyer for the plaintiffs said today that he would continue to fight Yeo's candidacy.
In her ruling, Judge Elspeth Cypher restored an initial determination by the Newton Election Commission that Yeo was legally living in Ward 2 and was eligible to run.
“The local board of elections is entitled to deference in interpretation of its charter,” Cypher wrote.
“There is no dispute that Yeo fully intended to be domiciled in Ward 2.”
The city had been holding off on printing ballots for the Nov. 8 election, pending the result of Yeo's appeal.
Yeo said in an email that he was "very happy with the decision."
"It is a straight-forward sensible ruling that supports the Newton Election Commission's primacy and findings of fact. My campaign for re-election moves forward, with lots of new support and energy."
Last week, a Superior Court judge overturned the earlier decision by the Newton Election Commission to let Yeo run, saying he was a resident of Ward 4, not Ward 2, when election paperwork became available in March.
‘‘The Commission committed an error of law when it concluded that Yeo’s domicil as of March 7, 2011 was the Ward 2 house,’’ Judge Edward P. Leibensperger said in the now-overturned decision. ‘‘The Court concludes that the Commission’s error was substantial and that it negatively affected the material rights of the voters of Newton because it allowed the inclusion of an ineligible candidate.’’
Margaret Albright is the only other candidate on the School Committee ballot from Ward 2.
Peter Harrington, the lawyer for the residents challenging Yeo’s candidacy, Daniel L. Fahey and James W. Bueche, said today he would appeal Cypher’s ruling.
‘‘I think Judge Cypher has changed longstanding case law in Massachusetts by her decision,’’ Harrington said. ‘‘We will appeal to the appropriate judges to see if that change should be put in place, or if Judge Leibensperger’s well thought-out decision should be reinstated.’’
Last year, Yeo sold his longtime Auburndale residence in Ward 4 to nearby Lasell College, according to court documents. Yeo has served three terms on the School Committee as the representative from Ward 4. In November of last year, Yeo purchased a home in Newtonville, which is in Ward 2. However, under an arrangement with Lasell College, Yeo continued to live in Auburndale while renovations were underway at the Newtonville house.
When election forms became available in March, Yeo listed his address in Newtonville and applied to run as a Ward 2 candidate. But until June, Yeo still primarily resided in Auburndale with his family, sleeping there each night, according to court documents.
A group of residents challenged Yeo’s candidacy, asserting that he failed to meet the residency requirement on the day paperwork became available in March. The Election Commission narrowly overturned that challenge, voting 3-2 to keep Yeo on the ballot. That decision was restored by Thursday's Court of Appeals ruling.
Dan Adams can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.