Skip to content
Philadelphia Politics
Link copied to clipboard

Judge says registration can't derail Street candidacy

The question of whether T. Milton Street Sr. remains on the Democratic primary ballot for mayor rests for now on a Pennsylvania law that says a candidate for public office lives where his spouse lives.

The question of whether T. Milton Street Sr. remains on the Democratic primary ballot for mayor rests for now on a Pennsylvania law that says a candidate for public office lives where his spouse lives.

Street testified Friday that his "common-law wife" lives in Moorestown, but that he lives in Philadelphia.

Common Pleas Court Judge Chris Wogan heard more than four hours of testimony and argument from Street and Kevin Greenberg, the lawyer trying to knock Street off the May 19 primary ballot.

Wogan, who ruled Friday that Street should not be removed because he was registered as an independent when he filed to run for mayor as a Democrat, will hear more arguments about residency Monday morning.

Greenberg, representing Joseph Coccio Jr., contended Friday that Street lives with his wife in Moorestown.

The City Charter requires mayoral candidates to be residents of Philadelphia for three years before the general election.

Street testified that since November 2012, he has spent "probably 90 percent" of his nights in the city, most recently at the home he rents in North Philadelphia. He denied spending any nights during that time at his wife's New Jersey house.

Street told reporters something different during a break in testimony, before issues about his residency were explored in court.

Asked if he spends any nights in Moorestown, he replied, "Occasionally, yeah."

Asked if he had married the woman he called his "love interest" during a similar residency challenge in the 2011 election, Street said, "Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah."

In court, Street, 75, was at times pugnacious and at times playful.

He objected to what he called Greenberg's "irrelevant questions" about his personal life as it involved his residency.

But he joked about staying at motels and hotels with his wife while denying that he spends nights with her in Moorestown.

"We don't sleep together," Street said, chuckling. "We're senior citizens. Sex is not in our lives."

Street, a former state senator who has not held elective office for three decades, survived a similar residency challenge in 2011, when he ran against Mayor Nutter in the Democratic primary.

He won 24 percent of the vote. At the time he was on supervised release after spending 26 months in federal prison for convictions on three misdemeanor counts of not paying taxes on $3 million in income.

Street on Friday objected when Greenberg raised his tax convictions to question his credibility.

"I don't see the relevance," he said.

After the hearing ended, Street said he had already overcome "the most difficult issue" in the ballot challenge, filing to run for mayor as a Democrat while registered as a independent.

Wogan said he could find no state law that required Street to be registered as a Democrat when he filed nominating petitions for mayor on March 10.

And Wogan said he could only remove Street from the ballot if he found that he had "intentionally" deceived the voters by listing his party affiliation as Democratic in his candidate affidavit.

Street testified Friday that he assumed he was registered as a Democrat until he read in The Inquirer last week that he was a registered independent.

Street, who ran for a state House seat as an independent in 2012, said he changed his voter registration back to Democratic in March 2013.

Voter registration records do not reflect that change.

Street testified that he registered as a Democrat - calling that a "correction," not a change - last week after reading the Inquirer story.

Street, who represented himself in court, later accused State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams, another Democrat running for mayor, of engineering the ballot challenge.

Greenberg said his client, Coccio, was acting as a concerned voter.

Coccio is treasurer of Transit Workers Union Local 234. Local 234 has endorsed Williams in the Democratic primary for mayor.

215-854-5973 @byChrisBrennan