Corey Woods couldn't muster enough support two years ago in his bid for the Tempe City Council, but said voters nonetheless encouraged him after his defeat.
They urged the relatively new Tempe resident to get more involved in community organizations and get to know more people, he said.
"People want to see that track record before they put you in a position on the City Council," Woods said.
He's become more visible in the community by joining several organizations and said he's grown as a community advocate.
Woods is pushing neighborhood and quality-of-life issues. He laments the loss of independent businesses downtown, saying his office in downtown Phoenix is surrounded by the kind of interesting mom-and-pop shops Tempe should have more of.
And several struggling strip malls could thrive with similar merchants, he said. Tempe should attract small merchants across the city, Woods said, by interviewing business owners and asking what the city can do to land them in Tempe.
Woods said absentee owners of rental houses are destroying neighborhoods. He calls on the city to ramp up code enforcement to force owners to take care of their property.
"That's destroying a lot of our neighborhoods," Woods said. "We have to really go after these people and make sure they're not allowed to operate with impunity."
Woods was a renter two years ago but now owns a home. He found it hard to afford housing and wants the city to expand programs assisting families struggling to buy houses.
He grew up talking politics at the dinner table every night with his parents, but he said he's not set in rigid beliefs.
On the much-debated issue of Tempe's property tax rate, he wouldn't commit to whether he'd vote to lower it or keep it the same. He said the issue needs further study to determine if the city can provide improvements residents want at the current rate.