Milton Street's mayoral run faces challenge
Does T. Milton Street Sr., an irrepressible Philadelphian, actually reside in New Jersey? Street on Monday became the first candidate to have his spot on the May 19 Philadelphia mayoral primary ballot challenged in court.
Does T. Milton Street Sr., an irrepressible Philadelphian, actually reside in New Jersey?
Street on Monday became the first candidate to have his spot on the May 19 Philadelphia mayoral primary ballot challenged in court.
A former state senator, Street filed nomination petitions last week to run for mayor as a Democrat, though city and state records list him as a registered independent since 2012.
The legal challenge filed Monday cites Street's registration - and also claims he has lived in New Jersey since 2012. The challenger, a transit workers union leader, says both are reasons to boot Street from the ballot.
Not so fast, said Street. He promptly accused State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams, another African American seeking the Democratic nomination, of orchestrating the ballot challenge.
"Because Sen. Williams is the only one who benefits from me being out of the race," Street said.
The Williams campaign shrugged off Street.
"Milton's gonna say and do what Milton's going to say and do, but if he's looking for the source of his current legal troubles he should look no further than when he abandoned the Democratic Party and then asked for its nomination," Williams campaign spokesman Al Butler said in an e-mail.
The challenge was filed in Common Pleas Court by attorney Kevin Greenberg for Joseph Coccio Jr., secretary-treasurer of Transit Workers Union Local 234.
Greenberg said Coccio was acting on his own behalf and not for another mayoral candidate.
"My client is looking forward to a serious debate among serious candidates," Greenberg said. "Milton Street is not a serious candidate."
Local 234 endorsed Williams on Feb. 5, calling him a "consensus-builder and problem-solver."
The Inquirer first reported last week that Street is listed as a registered independent in city and state voter records.
Street insists that he mailed a form to the City Commissioners in early 2013, changing his registration back to Democratic after he ran unsuccessfully as an independent in a 2012 special election for a state House seat.
The City Charter requires mayoral candidates to be city residents for three years before the election.
Coccio's court 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 dismissed that as sad and frivolous.
"It's just silly," he said when asked if he lives in the city. "Of course I live in Philly. I haven't taken leave of my senses. Why would I do all this and live somewhere else?"
Street said he voted as a Democrat in the 2013 and 2014 elections. He offered as proof copies of voter sign-in sheets from his polling place for those elections. Both show a "D" for Democrat next to where Street had signed in.
On Monday, Street accused Williams of driving the court challenge so that the state senator alone could emerge as "the black candidate" in the six-person race for mayor.
Street predicted former City Councilman James F. Kenney and former District Attorney Lynne M. Abraham, both of whom are white, will draw their support from the same pool of voters.
He dismissed two other mayoral candidates, former Common Pleas Judge Nelson A. Diaz, a Latino, and former PGW executive Doug Oliver, an African American, as having little impact on the race.
Ballot challenges must be filed by 5 p.m. Tuesday.
The question of where Street resides has come up before.
When he filed for bankruptcy in 2005, Street listed a home address in Moorestown. Four years ago, Mayor Nutter challenged his residency when Street tried to defeat Nutter's bid for a second term. Nutter's challenge noted that the 2006 indictment that led to Street's conviction for unpaid taxes included the New Jersey address.
During the 2011 ballot challenge, Street said his "love interest" lived in Moorestown, but while under federally supervised release from prison for one year, he was not allowed to visit her.
Street, who had spent 26 months behind bars for not paying his taxes, won that challenge.
He went on to win 24 percent of the 2011 primary election vote for mayor.