Suit: Milton Street Can’t Run Because He’s an Independent from New Jersey

The mayoral candidate believes his contender Anthony Williams is secretly behind the challenge.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Matt Rourke

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Matt Rourke

Just four days after Milton Street launched his campaign for mayor, a local union leader is trying to eject him from the May 19th primary ballot.

A legal challenge filed on behalf of Joseph Coccio Jr., secretary-treasurer of the SEPTA Transport Workers Union Local 234, said Street cannot run as a Democrat in the upcoming election because he is both a registered Independent and a resident of New Jersey, not Philadelphia.

Coccio said he is challenging Street’s candidacy independent of the transport workers union, which has endorsed state Sen. Anthony Williams for mayor.

“I filed this as a citizen of the city,” said Coccio. “It was not something I did in my official capacity as secretary-treasurer.”

Street denied both of the legal challenge’s claims. He provided documents to reporters at a Monday press conference that he said prove he has voted as a Democrat in the past two primaries, and thus guarantee that he can run for mayor. He said he changed his party registration to Democrat from Independent in early 2013. However, records from the City Commissioner’s office show that Street has been registered as an Independent since 2012.

Street also insisted Monday that he is a resident of Philadelphia.

“Of course I live in Philly. I haven’t taken leave of my senses,” said Street. “Why would I do all this and live somewhere else?”

In the 2011 primary election, Mayor Michael Nutter‘s campaign challenged Street’s mayoral candidacy on the grounds that he did not meet the city’s residency requirements, and lost.

Street said he believes that Williams is secretly behind this year’s challenge.

“Sen. Williams is the only one that benefits from me being out of the race,” said Street, elaborating that mayoral candidates Lynne Abraham and Jim Kenney, who are both white, “will split the white vote.” Street characterized Doug Oliver and Nelson Diaz, the remaining two Democrats running for mayor, as unviable.

Albert Butler, a spokesman for Williams, dismissed Street’s accusations.

“Milton’s going to say and do what Milton’s going to say and do,” said Butler. “But if he’s looking for the source of his current legal troubles, he should look no further than the Democratic Party he abandoned and then asked for its nomination.”