Frank Rizzo Jr. wants to get back in the game.
A little over three years since voters rejected his bid for a fifth term in Philadelphia City Council, Rizzo says he will take another run at an at-large seat next year, this time as a Democrat.
"I have been benched for three years and I'm ready to play again," said Rizzo. "I am good at what I do, and I think I can add something to Council."
Rizzo has decided against a bid for mayor, something he had spoken of in the past. He said he switched goals after sizing up the Democratic mayoral field and concluding his talents were better aimed elsewhere.
"As it is emerging, you have a lot of good people running already," he said, specifically naming former District Attorney Lynne M. Abraham and State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams. There are two other announced candidates - Terry Gillen, former head of the Redevelopment Authority, and Ken Trujillo, former city solicitor.
Rizzo, 71, is the son of the late Mayor Frank L. Rizzo. The younger Rizzo served 16 years in Council before he collected his retirement benefits under the controversial DROP program and then ran for reelection. He was rejected by voters in the Republican primary.
"It was my Achilles' heel. I just misread the folks," he said. "I thought what I did was appropriate at the time, but obviously looking back, if you know you are going to lose an election, you are going to do things differently."
His rejection by Republican voters in that race contributed to his decision to switch parties for this run. "I lost my relationship with them," he said of Republicans. "I felt that this time around, I had a better opportunity as a Democrat. I've always been nonpartisan. When I was a Republican, I probably helped more Democrats than Republicans."
Rizzo called himself a "problem-solver" and spoke enthusiastically of two measures he pushed successfully when he was on Council - the creation of a cellphone lot at Philadelphia International Airport, and the agreement to have the state police take over patrolling the Schuylkill Expressway and I-95 in the city.
He also said the Nutter administration's ill-starred effort to sell the Philadelphia Gas Works might have ended differently had he been on Council.
"For not one Council member to sponsor the legislation to allow a hearing on the PGW sale," he said, his voice rising. "You can't be for or against something unless you have information. If I were on that Council, there would have been an ordinance to move that forward."