Goodman officially enters Phila. mayoral race

Keith Goodman, senior pastor at Seventh-Day Adventist Church in North Philadelphia, announces his candidacy for mayor outside his church, Feb. 15, 2015. (TOM GRALISH/Staff Photographer)
Keith Goodman, senior pastor at Seventh-Day Adventist Church in North Philadelphia, announces his candidacy for mayor outside his church, Feb. 15, 2015. (TOM GRALISH/Staff Photographer)

 

As Sunday's bitterly cold winds buffeted a handful of supporters outside the North Philadelphia Seventh-day Adventist Church where he is pastor, the Rev. Keith S. Goodman announced his candidacy as a Democrat for mayor, saying the city needs a leader who understands the problems of the working class.

"The question has been asked, 'Why are you running?' " Goodman said during his outdoor announcement at 16th and Oxford Streets. "I have two answers. Because I can . . . and I should."

He spoke directly in front of the North Philadelphia Community Center, a four-story building taking up much of the block that is being redeveloped as housing for students at nearby Temple University, and as a site for various community outreach programs the church runs.

Goodman, 42, said the joint project between the church and the developer could serve as a model for the redevelopment of other vacant buildings, creating tax revenue and jobs.

"I am looking at it more from the angle of corporate responsibility" than from the prospect of any immediate financial gain for the city's big employers, he said.

But Goodman could well face a challenge in the May 19 Democratic primary on the question of whether he has lived long enough in the city. He has said he lived in Philadelphia from 1999 through 2003 and then moved to Chester, where he became pastor at Macedonia Seventh-day Adventist Church.

He ran as a Democrat for Chester City Council in 2005 and lost, then moved back to Philadelphia last month. The Philadelphia Home Rule Charter requires mayoral candidates to live in the city for three years before seeking office. But he has said the charter is unclear about whether that time must be consecutive.

"He doesn't meet the residency requirements, period, and unfortunately for him, that means he is not going to be a viable candidate," said Ellen Kaplan, a former policy director of the good-government group Committee of Seventy.

Adam Bonin, a lawyer working for the mayoral campaign of Democratic State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams, tweeted Sunday morning that the Home Rule Charter has always been interpreted as meaning the three most recent years for residency.

Bonin cited legal challenges filed in 1999 against Democrat Marty Weinberg and in 2011 against Democrat T. Milton Street Sr., who planned to announce on Tuesday another run for mayor.

Goodman said he decided to run for mayor after one person, whom he declined to identify, told him that he would make a good mayor and that he was electable.

Goodman, a native of Oklahoma who was raised in a military family that moved around the country when he was young, became pastor of the North Philadelphia Seventh-day Adventist Church in 2006, although he and his family lived in Chester until recently.

From 1999 to January 2006, he was pastor in Chester, where he also served as a local consultant to ActionPA.org, an environmental group that says it engages in "fighting corporate power" and that has worked to block trash incinerators, liquid natural gas terminals, and other facilities it says are environmental hazards.

At Sunday's announcement, Goodman stressed his working-class roots and the simple backgrounds of his parents, qualities that he said helped him understand the problems of typical residents.

Goodman's congregation is large, with some 600-plus members. First Elder Greg Cherry said Goodman was well-liked and would be an effective mayor.

"I think it is great for the city," he said.

Goodman earned a bachelor's degree from Oakwood College in Alabama in 1996 and attended the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University in Michigan from 1996 to 1998. He is married to Evelyn Goodman. They have two sons and a daughter.

 


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Inquirer staff writer Chris Brennan contributed to this article.