As a teenager, Mark Andrew played the man running for president in his high school's performance of the musical "Of Thee I Sing."

More than four decades later, he's happy just to run for mayor of Minneapolis.

The former Hennepin County commissioner and Minnesota DFL chair on Thursday launched his bid for mayor in the same classroom at Washburn High School where he once practiced for the musical.

"Together, we'll make Minneapolis the greenest city in the United States, attack the education achievement gap and create an environment where businesses can thrive," Andrew told the crowd.

Mayor R.T. Rybak's plans to leave office at the end of the year have sparked a flurry of campaigns to replace him. So far, DFL City Council Members Betsy Hodges, Gary Schiff and Don Samuels have announced their bids to run, and other candidates are expected to join the race in the next few weeks.

Andrew served as a Hennepin County commissioner from 1983 to 1999. He is president of GreenMark, an environmental consulting and marketing firm whose clients include the Minnesota Twins and other professional sports teams, Xcel Energy and Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

Andrew said he would draw on his considerable business experience and collaborate with the school and park systems, the county and the state. He wants to use the city's green spaces and water to attract high-density development and improve sustainability programs.

Like Rybak, Andrew said he would prioritize rebuilding the North Side. He wants to develop the waterfront there and boost the population, which dropped as thousands left after the foreclosure crisis and a May 2011 tornado, to relieve the tax burden on residents in every part of the city. And he'd like to attract a light manufacturing company there to bring in more jobs.

"We need to accelerate that," he said. "The North Side has got to be a priority for a South Side mayor."

Maya Rao • 612-673-4210