CHICAGO -- Rahm Emanuel told elections officials on Tuesday that when he went to work as the White House chief of staff almost two years ago, he left his family's "most valuable possessions" at his Chicago home, showing he always intended to move back.

Emanuel was testifying at a Chicago Board of Election Commissioners hearing called after his residency was challenged to keep him off February's mayoral ballot. He said he left behind baby clothes, his wife's wedding dress, photo albums and family china. His supporters have long said these are not the kind of things anyone would simply abandon.

Emanuel talked about one of his most cherished possessions at the house -- a coat his grandfather bought for his father in the 1950s.

"It's the only possession I still have from my grandfather," Emanuel said.

Emanuel took the stand to defend himself against more than two dozen objectors who say he isn't eligible to run for mayor because he lived in Washington for nearly two years while working for Obama.

Emanuel's attorneys dismiss challenges to his residency, saying he owns a home, pays property taxes and votes in Chicago.

Emanuel appeared relaxed and was soft spoken, nothing like his fiery public reputation. He even joked at times. When one of his income tax returns was shown on a screen, Emanuel quipped "it does call for tax reform I'll tell you that."