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Tom Maher Q and A

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.

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