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Yesterday, the man who only two months ago seemed reluctant to run for the Republican Party's mayoral nomination rejoiced with his campaign workers at news that he is leading in the polls. Former District Attorney Ron Castille is almost cocky while he explains what his answers are to Philadelphia's ills. Only on May 21, after the Republican primaries are over, will it be clear if his cockiness is justified. Castille's March announcement of his candidacy was less a decision to run for the nomination and more of an acquiescence to the pleadings of Republican party boss William Meehan. But he is now relishing his position in the primary race. With a strong record as the city's District Attorney and name recognition in his corner, Castille has a strong lead with several weeks to go until the primary, according to polls that appeared in the Philadelphia Daily News yesterday. Castille's confidence is toned down, though, once conversation turns to the November election. In that election, Castille acknowledges a challenge in battling the Democratic candidate. Philadelphia, like many major cities, is run by Democrats -- and has been since 1951 when the citizens got fed up and voted out a corrupt Republican government. Castille says that 1991 is when the tables will turn and angry voters will oust the current regime. Many people have predicted that Castille -- and the Republican party machine which comes with the endorsed candidate -- is the only one who can hand the Democrats a defeat in November. Castille attributed a great deal of his success so far to the organization of the party. He said that they mobilize voters and get things done when individual candidates cannot. "Frank Rizzo is trying to fool everyone into thinking he changed over votes in the last election," Castille said. Castille would bring a rather dry sense of humor to City Hall, complemented by his tendency to recline in his chair and snap his red suspenders. Castille said if he wins in March over fellow Republicans Rizzo and Sam Katz and in November, he will be successful as mayor because of his experience as an administrator of a large government agency. Castille has served as a leader of various associations of district attorneys at the state and national levels, and said that the connections he made in these positions will be useful if the city needs to ask for intergovernmental aid. He emphasized that there needs to be a complete change in the current city government -- including much of the City Council -- before Philadelphia's government can earn credibility. "If any Democrat wins, they'll bring in the same Council," Castille said. Castille said that if he is elected, he will not raise taxes but will instead "get spending in line," blasting the benefits city workers now receive. He said he plans to negotiate with unions and tell them that the health and welfare benefits are "killing the city." He also criticized several "excesses" of the current system, including a policy which gives city employees 47 days off with pay in the first year they are in their jobs. In addition to future plans, Castille also likes to discuss his accomplishments as D.A. He talked about statutes he helped push through which, among other things, calls for mandatory sentence lengths for drug dealers. Castille is running with a slate of candidates for City Council and said he expects either all or none of the slate to be elected. But Castille said that should he be elected along with a Democratic Council "it would be a long four year term."

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