Former councilman rested and ready for another run at his old job

 Former city councilman and Republican Frank Rizzo Jr. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Former city councilman and Republican Frank Rizzo Jr. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

A former Philadelphia City Councilman with a big name has switched parties and wants another shot at his old job.

Frank Rizzo Jr has switched registration from Republican to Democrat and says that, instead of a rumored run for mayor, he’s making another bid for councilman at large.

He served four terms as a Republican councilman from 1996 to 2011.

Rizzo says he’s never voted along party lines:

“If it was good for the people, Frank Rizzo was in favor of it and I will continue that way. If there is something that the Democrats want to do that is not good for Philadelphia, I won’t be part of doing it.”

Rizzo admits he probably didn’t make the best decision in taking an early retirement payment of nearly $200,000 after he lost his seat in the last city election.  

“Certainly if I probably had my eye on the ball about how that was perceived I probably wouldn’t have done that,” Rizzo said.

The practice of elected officials taking those “DROP” payments became a hot-button issue in the 2011 election.

Rizzo’s father died while on the campaign trail during the 1991 mayoral election.  Rizzo Jr. says even though he’ll turn 72 while he’s running for office, he’s been told he’s healthy and able to run without any problems.

“I went to the doc, got all kinds of physicals, did A-to-Z,” Rizzo said, “and he patted me on the butt and said you’re ready go do it if you want to, you’re healthy.”

Until 2011, Rizzo Jr. usually won fairly easily one of the two at-large seats that the City Charter reserves for the minority party on Council (usually the Republicans).  If he stays in the race, he’s likely to be part of a crowded field in the Democratic primary next May.

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