Nearly a week after participating in the first Minneapolis mayoral debate, City Council Member Betsy Hodges officially kicked off her campaign for the top job at a rally in northeast Minneapolis Tuesday.

Hodges, the City Council’s budget chair, is the sixth candidate to formally enter the race. Her campaign is already staffed with some of the state’s top political talent.

Speaking to a packed crowd at Honey, a lounge on Hennepin Avenue, Hodges touted her role in developing a “prosperous, unified city that works” over the past several years on the council.

“We have weathered these tough times better than almost any city in the country,” Hodges said. “And we are poised to take advantage of this economic recovery.”

Hodges, a resident of the Linden Hills neighborhood, has served on the council since 2005. She was joined on stage by her husband, Metropolitan Council Member Gary Cunningham.

Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, told the room that Hodges was an early and vocal advocate against the marriage amendment and active on many other issues at the State Capitol.

“There have been years and years of withering attacks on the good people working hard for a prosperous, unified Minneapolis,” said Dibble, Hodges’ campaign co-chair. “Let me tell you, Betsy Hodges has been there every step of the way.”

Hodges said that improving transportation, education and livability will ensure people continue to invest in the city. She also noted that Minneapolis has one of the largest gaps in the country between white and minority residents.

“What I offer to you is my commitment to build the relationships necessary to set a direction to make sure that those gaps are closed and those high expectations are met,” Hodges said. “That is where we need to head to unify the city of Minneapolis.”

The other five candidates already in the race are Council Members Don Samuels and Gary Schiff, as well as former council President Jackie Cherryhomes, former Hennepin County Commissioner Mark Andrew and Duke Energy senior counsel Cam Winton. Others are still mulling a run.

The second debate of the race is slated for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Solomon’s Porch in south Minneapolis.

The candidates’ first test of electoral strength is in two weeks, when five of the campaigns will vie to elect delegates at the city’s DFL caucuses.