An Ogden man who sued the City Council for $23 million last year now wants a place at the table.
Gerard A. Arthus, an engineer with a history of abrasive behavior over public issues, has filed to run against incumbent two-term Councilwoman Adele Smith for a citywide seat."It's about time we got snobbery and elitism and people from the east bench off the City Council," he said. "We need people on the council who are with the people."
Arthus said he and three other residents, who have yet to file and he declined to name, will run on a "nonpartisan, reform slate."
"It's going to be an interesting race," he said. "We're simple citizens who want corruption stopped."
Smith welcomes the challenge. She said she'd rather mount a campaign than drift into office unopposed, which is what happened four years ago.
Arthus moved to Ogden more than a year ago with his wife, a Weber State University sociology professor.
Since then he's had several explosive face-offs with elected Ogden officials. At one meeting he was asked to leave the council chambers with a police escort.
He has also been quoted as calling a 2nd District Court judge a "b------," "jackass" and "political hack" in connection with a fraud lawsuit Arthus and five other residents filed in February 1996 against the City Council. In the suit, they claimed the council deceived the public by not announcing that a $23 million bond proposal would accrue interest.
The bond issuance was approved by 73 percent of voters. It will pay for renovations to the Municipal Building and an $11-million public safety building.
Judge Michael Lyon tossed out the suit in June, calling Arthus and the other residents who filed it "reckless and irresponsible."
At another meeting last year, Arthus angered City Council members by reading sections of the Book of Mormon out loud and implying they were benefiting financially and politically through religious affiliations.
Arthus told the Standard Examiner that if he is elected, he would not accept a $625 monthly salary given to council members. "Public service should be public service," he said.
Arthus, who was elected in 1977 to the Brentwood school board in New York, has a long history of capturing newspaper headlines for his abrasive comments and behavior, said Anthony Felicio, president of that school district.
He was once arrested and removed from a school for disabling phone wires to a school election center, Felicio said.
Arthus also attempted to secretly tape the conversation during a legally convened, closed-door session of the school board. Again, he was removed from the building by police, said Gerald Steiner, Brentwood School District spokes-man.
Because of the "disruptive actions," Steiner said, the state school commissioner pressured Arthus not to run for re-election.
"He was absolutely a very vocal, negative force," Steiner said."Giving him the benefit of the doubt, he is definitely a different character."
Arthus said the school board members were "thieves" and "paid off," that the meeting he taped was not an executive session and the ban on recordings was illegal.
He said he was arrested because government bureaucrats were angry he was uncovering and revealing secret, illegal payoffs.
"I've been arrested - and many more times than that," he said. "But no convictions."