"I'm not the villain, I'm not the bad guy, I'm not a criminal, I'm not a murderer."
So says Danny Cancian in his video interview with Local Focus. He's the former director of the failed Bella Vista homes development, and now a candidate for Tauranga mayor and elected member at large of Tauranga City.
"People have threatened to kill me, I've been threatened to be put under slabs, all sorts of stuff like this," he said.
At the end of 2017, work on the Bella Vista development came to a halt when the company went into liquidation. Residents were forced to leave, the council offered to buy the properties and sued the developers and builders.
Late last year the parties reached an out-of-court settlement and the council says it has made significant changes to its operations as a result.
But Cancian is still fighting to clear his name.
"The public were ill-informed," he said.
"The thing is, I've hit rock bottom in my life a couple of times. When I was in a Chinese prison, that taught me that if you've got something to say, you need to stand up and say it. Don't sit behind a keyboard. Face up to the person and tell them what you think."
Cancian has battled hard against Tauranga Council, but retains respect for Mayor Greg Brownless.
"I think he's quite a good guy but I think he's lost the vision for this city."
At the past election, Cancian voted for Kelvin Clout, but this time it'll be someone else, and not himself.
"Tenby Powell! If anyone I was going to vote for, it'll be him. His policies are very similar to mine."
Cancian is looking to put his past behind him, hoping the public will give him a chance to make changes on the council.
"I'm not the bad guy everyone says I am. If you've actually spent time with me, had a coffee with me ... you would understand, I'm not the villain."