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Aja Brown, Compton's Youngest Mayor, Wins Second Term

Mayor Aja Brown (Wikimedia Commons)
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Compton Mayor Aja Brown has won a second term, beating out challenger Omar Bradley, who served as Compton's Mayor for most of the 1990s. Brown, who first became the city's youngest mayor in 2013, was touted for boosting safety in the city during her tenure. In her latest campaign, she'd promised to use city funds to fix the potholes that riddle the streets of Compton. Preliminary results show that Brown won with about 60% of the vote on Tuesday, according to the L.A. Times.

The mayoral race had taken on the familiar narrative of the old guard versus the young blood. There was a minor twist to the story, however: Bradley, who represented the past (he served as mayor from 1993 to 2001), was actually the challenger in the race. He attempted to unseat Brown, the young politician who'd helmed the mayor's seat since 2013.

Stark lines were drawn between the two. Bradley characterized Brown (who was raised in Altadena) as an outsider who was disconnected from the spirit and history of the neighborhood. “The value of Compton to those who don’t live here or are not from here is quite a bit different than if you live here or were born here,” Bradley told the L.A. Times. He added that the community was built on a sense of self-reliance. "You could buy a home and raise your children. They would go off to college. We would teach them to come back and give back to the pot that they took out of," said Bradley. "That’s what made it great and produced champions—because we believed we were family.” He also criticized Brown for what he saw as a failure to enact beautfying efforts in the city. "[Citizens] should look at the debris in the streets, the untrimmed trees, the potholes, the water that is brown that comes through their faucets, the high taxes," Bradley told the Press-Telegram.

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Brown, in turn, had pointed to allegations of corruption that had marred Bradley's tenure. Compton had been “plagued by corrupt elected officials that have fleeced the city’s assets, selling off revenue-generating enterprises and city property," Brown told the Press-Telegram. In 2004, Bradley was convicted of misappropriating city funds. According to KPCC, there were claims that he was using city money to finance personal travel and rounds of golf. While the conviction was tossed out by an appeals court in 2012, Bradley still faces a possible retrial, which meant the possibility that, in the case Bradley won, he'd have to vacate his seat if he were convicted again.

Brown, whose mother was born in Compton, was regarded as a fresh face who symbolized a new age in the community (she went as far as saying that Compton could be the Brooklyn of L.A.). As noted at the Times, crime rates had dropped significantly during Brown's tenure. She was endorsed by the Los Angeles Sentinel, LA Daily News and the Press-Telegram, which reported that she'd slashed the city's $43 million deficit (which she'd inherited when she'd entered office) down to $7 million. The publication also noted that she'd championed Measure P, which was approved by voters in 2016—the measure increased the city’s sales tax by one cent and is slated to bring in $8 million a year to improve infrastructure. Brown has said that funds will be used to help repave the city's roads, fixing potholes that have remained in place for years.

Bradley, as the Times noted, had also put focus on infrastructure during his stint as mayor. He'd generated new housing, kept the streets clean, and downsized a municipal work force that had become overly large.

Responding to Bradley's claims that an outsider isn't a fit for Compton, one retired minister told the Times that Brown has generated a lot of positives for the city. “She has brought respect and dignity back to Compton,” he said. “The city feels safer. She knows what the city needs.”