Former Grand Forks School Board member C.T. Marhula announced his campaign for Grand Forks’ Ward 5 City Council seat Monday.
Marhula, 65, said his priorities include shepherding the future water treatment plant to fruition as well as creating a more “student-friendly” city atmosphere. He is in support of a new Grand Forks Public Library at a location near the Grand Cities Mall, and said he would stand behind a 0.75 percent increase in the city’s sales tax -- discussed this fall by council members -- to fund local infrastructure projects.
“We’re at a critical time with the challenges we’re going to face with the state budget,” he said. “I just want to be part of the transition to the new generation.”
He added the city ought to be “cycling” more individuals through city leadership positions, part of what he said would introduce more people from more backgrounds into top local roles. Marhula said that at this time, he only expects to seek one four-year term.
“I think we need to start involving a lot more people from various socioeconomic groups in the city,” he said. “(We) have too many hats for too few heads. It’s not that they’re not dedicated or that they’re not competent. It’s that they get burned out.”
One of his top local issues is the future water treatment plant, which has an estimated price of about $130 million.
“We need to keep moving the needle forward on the water treatment plant. Water is critical for our health and our development,’ he said. “To me, that’s kind of the No. 1 project right now.”
Ward 5, which includes the south end east of South Washington Street, is represented by Doug Christensen.
Christensen, who was reached Monday before Marhula announced his campaign to the Herald, declined to comment on his intentions for re-election.
Election Day is June 14.
Marhula graduated in 1968 from Lake of the Woods High School in Baudette, Minn. He received a degree in business administration from Bemidji State University in 1973 and holds both a law degree and an MBA from UND.
He has held multiple roles throughout his career, including time as a business and human resources manager for Nodak Electric. He worked as city clerk and treasurer for the city of Warren, Minn., and is now semi-retired as a project assistant with Experience Works, a nonprofit group that connects senior citizens to local jobs.
Marhula’s political experience includes a stint on the Grand Forks School Board from 2000 to 2006, and he spent much of the 1990s on Grand Forks’ Civil Service Commission. In an online resume, he also lists experience as a political consultant.
Marhula has made headlines in recent years for his city job in Warren, Minn. In 2009, he was fired from the post in a 5-1 vote of the City Council. The city said Marhula did not meet job expectations or take sufficient direction from city leaders, which Marhula disputed at the time. He more recently has linked the issue to concerns he raised about city officials’ “malfeasance.” Marhula said he hopes to resolve the issue without a trial.
According to court documents, a settlement conference for a suit brought by Marhula, which can be traced to the firing, is scheduled for June 16.
Marhula emphasized he’s the right candidate for the post.
“I’ve got the time now,” he said of his current schedule, “And I think it takes time.”
Address: 600 block of Plain Hills Drive
Professional experience: Project assistant at Experience Works; business and human resources manager, Nodak Electric, 1987-2005; various jobs since 2000, including city clerk-treasurer for Warren, Minn.
Political experience: Grand Forks School Board, 2000-06; appointed to Grand Forks Civil Service Commission on Grand Forks Public Schools Board; Civil Service Commission through 1990s; unsuccessfully sought Grand Forks County Commission seat in 2008.
Community involvement: Former president, Grand Forks Noon Rotary Club; charter member, NAACP North Dakota Branch; led fundraising efforts for Greater Grand Forks Soccer Club
Education: Lake of the Woods High School, Baudette, Minn., 1968; Bemidji State University, 1973; law degree, UND, 1990; MBA, UND, 1997
Family: Wife, Cindy; two daughters ages 20 and 24.
Why should voters choose you? “We’re at a critical time with the challenges we’re going to face with the state budget. I just want to be part of the transition to the new generation.”