Announcing his campaign for mayor of Minneapolis on Wednesday, City Council Member Don Samuels pledged to reduce the crime rate below any other major U.S. city and bridge disparities between city residents.

Samuels, who represents the southern segment of north Minneapolis, held a fundraiser in a downtown Minneapolis hotel to throw his hat in the ring for the office being vacated by three-term incumbent R.T. Rybak. Joined by his wife and children, Samuels described a "tale of two cities" illustrated by wide gaps between city residents in measures including school achievement, sexually transmitted diseases, employment, income and home ownership.

"For every person who has had access to all of what Minneapolis has to offer, there is another person who hasn't," said Samuels, noting that he is "uniquely fit to negotiate the gaps."

A 10-year member of the City Council who chairs the city's public safety committee, Samuels was introduced by former Police Chief Tim Dolan, who retired in November. Dolan recalled his first days interacting with Samuels as a precinct commander on the North Side.

"He became a mentor and a friend," said Dolan, who chaired Samuels' exploratory committee. "I learned from Don that there is a higher degree of caring. There's a passion that Don carries for everything he does."

Samuels said he would make Minneapolis' crime rate the lowest of any major city in the country. "It's a basic human right of civilized, sophisticated, uncivilized, unsophisticated communities," Samuels said. "You must be safe!"

Samuels, a Jamaican immigrant, spent many years in the toy industry before joining the council. He was Playskool's senior director of research and development in the late 1980s before joining a local toy manufacturer.

Samuels is the third council member to enter the mayoral race, following colleagues Gary Schiff and Betsy Hodges. All are DFLers.

"There are other good people in the race," Samuels told the crowd. "But long odds are my life story."

Eric Roper • 612-673-1732 • Twitter: @StribRoper