A Hilton Head Island school board member is temporarily living in Bluffton but said he intends to return to his district soon.
Steven Morello, elected in November to the District 1 seat on the Beaufort County Board of Education, said he has been staying with a friend who lives outside his district while renovations are completed on an apartment he owns on Mathews Drive.
Morello said he hopes the renovations will be finished in about a month.
"I'm eager to return to my apartment in my district," he said.
Morello lived in Hilton Head Plantation when he decided to run for the District 1 seat vacated last year by Joan Deery. Morello ran unopposed.
He said he moved out of the home in June after he and his wife separated. He lived with a friend in Bluffton until October, when the tenant in his Mathews Drive apartment left. He then established that apartment as his legal residence.
But Morello said the apartment needed renovations. He has been back and forth between the apartment and his friend's home while the renovations are made.
Morello said his son has remained at Hilton Head Island IB Elementary School, and he has been an advocate for Hilton Head schools in his first months on the board.
State law governing elections defines a person's residence as the "fixed home where he has an intention of returning when he is absent." Candidates should be registered to vote in that location.
Scott Marshall, executive director of the Beaufort County Board of Elections and Registration, said those circumstances suggest Morello can retain his seat on the board because he has not changed his residency and intends to return to his district.
"He has taken no positive steps to give up his rights as an elector in that district," Marshall said.
Marshall said Morello's residency has not been formally challenged. If it were, state law would require the county elections board to hold a hearing and consider evidence of his residency.