A local labor leader challenged in court Monday the mayoral candidacy of T. Milton Street Sr., claiming the former state senator is not a registered Democrat and does not live in Philadelphia.
The legal challenge was filed in the First Judicial District by attorney Kevin Greenberg on behalf of Joseph Coccio Jr., secretary-treasurer of the Transit Workers Union, Local 234. Greenberg said Coccio was acting on his own behalf, and not for any of the other five candidates in the May 19 Democratic primary election.
"My client is looking forward to a serious debate among serious candidates," Greenberg said. "Milton Street is not a serious candidate."
Local 234 endorsed state Sen. Anthony H. Williams for mayor on Feb. 5, calling the Democrat a "consensus builder and problem solver."
The Inquirer reported last week that Street is a registered independent, according to city and state records. Street insisted that he changed his voter registration back to Democrat after he ran unsuccessfully in 2012 in a special election for a state House seat.
The City Charter requires that mayoral candidates be residents of Philadelphia for three years before the election. Coccio's filing claims: "As a resident of New Jersey, now and at most if not all times since November 2012, [Street] is ineligible" to run for mayor or hold the office.
Street, who called a news conference Monday morning to address his voter registration, called the legal challenge sad and frivolous.
"It's just silly," Street said when asked if he lives in Philadelphia. "Of course I live in Philly. I haven't taken leave of my senses. Why would I do all this and live somewhere else? It doesn't make any sense."
Street continued to insist that he changed his voter registration back to Democrat in early 2013 and then voted as a member of that political party in the 2013 and 2014 elections.
He accused Williams of being behind the legal challenge. Asked why, Street said, "Because Sen. Williams is the only one who benefits from me being out of the race."
Street explained that former City Councilman Jim Kenney and former District Attorney Lynne Abraham, both white candidates for mayor in the Democratic primary, are expected to draw the same voters.
He dismissed former Common Pleas Judge Nelson Diaz, who is Latino, and former PGW executive Doug Oliver, who is African-American, as candidates who will have little impact on the race.
Street said his removal from the ballot would leave Williams as "the black candidate" for mayor.
Mayor Nutter challenged Street's residency four years ago when Street tried to defeat his bid for a second term. Street, who had recently been released from federal prison after spending 26 months behind bars for not paying his taxes, won that challenge in court and went on to win 24 percent of the primary election vote for mayor.
* This post has been updated.