"Frank Rizzo is back, and so is Philadelphia," the former mayor declared last week at The United Skates of America roller rink as he announced plans to seek his old office.

Rizzo, elected mayor as a Democrat in 1971 and 1975, tried unsuccessfully in 1979 to amend a city law barring a third consecutive term. In 1983, he lost the Democratic mayoral primary to W. Wilson Goode, who later that year became Philadelphia's first black mayor. Four years later, Rizzo switched parties to challenge Goode, losing by 17,176 votes in the city's closest mayoral race in 20 years.

Rizzo is the third Republican to announce for his party's nomination in the May 21 primary, following two political novices -- financial adviser Samuel Katz and Dennis Morrison-Wesley, a tax consultant and the only black in the GOP race.

A former police commissioner, Rizzo, 70, told the crowd of 800, "I make not a promise but a solemn pledge {that} we will take back the streets for all the citizens."

While Rizzo may be favored to win the primary, the odds in the November general election are tough. Democrats hold a 3-1 citywide registration edge, and blacks, who do not like Rizzo, comprise 40 percent of the electorate. Three Democrats have announced their candidacies, and at least two others are expected to enter the primary.