Chester mayoral candidate strives to turn around beleaguered city

The City of Chester, a beleaguered suburb of Philadelphia, will have a new mayor in January after a member of city council ousted their longtime mayor. 

Stefan Roots, a 62-year-old Councilmember and electrical engineer, defeated two-term Mayor Thaddeus Kirkland by thousands of votes in the city's recent election. 

If he beats an independent challenger in the fall, Roots will take the reins of the bankrupt city that's finances are currently controlled by a state-appointed receiver with a $45M hole in its pension. 

"Most of my work is going to be in city hall, straightening up city hall trying to turn it back into a business because it’s a $65M operation not a corner store operation.," Roots told FOX 29's Jeff Cole. 

When manufacturing vanished in Chester the city faded. Some of its 33k residents struggle with poverty on streets marred by broken down homes.  

Roots said he wants to work with the state Receiver to fix the city’s deep financial problems. He also wants to clean the trash off city streets, provide affordable daycare and set up activities for young people.

A spokesperson for outgoing Mayor Kirkland did not return a call for comment.  Kirkland caused a stir Tuesday when he walked into a polling place seeking a vote count and was ordered to leave.

"I will never consider myself a savior, but they know if the city is going to have a fighting chance, it’s going to be with me," Roots said.