Tom Maher became a gadfly at Modesto City Council meetings in the 1980s and '90s, pressing for taxpayer rights.
Maher, 72, twice ran for a council seat over the years.
Now the retired businessman is making a third run against incumbent Councilman Brad Hawn.
Maher still sees himself as a taxpayer advocate.
He recently sat down with The Bee to talk about his latest campaign.
Q: Why are you running for City Council?
A: First of all, I have the time and I want to represent the taxpayers, the people on fixed incomes, and I want to represent the workers that get a 2 percent raise that diminishes because of the taxes the city puts on sewer and water.
Q: Was there an experience in your life that made you want to get involved with local government?
A: In the 1980s, I bought this house and I landscaped the yard with three trees. This Parks and Recreation guy came by and stenciled a sign on the curb that said 'tree.' I said, 'No, no. I don't want a tree. I have three trees and they're away from water lines. If I have to have one, I want all the houses that don't have city trees to have them.'
I got all the names of the houses that didn't have city trees, and I took it to the City Council. Needless to say, I didn't get that tree.
Then I started to attend City Council meetings and I would probably go every week. Ever since that time, I've been interested in what the city does.
It all started because of a tree.
Q: What's your top priority if you get elected?
A: Truth and honesty. Ask me a question and I'm going to tell you the answer, and you may not like it, but at least it'll be the truth.