COMPTON, Calif. -- Compton residents will head to the polls today to elect a new mayor, choosing between a former mayor who is awaiting retrial on corruption charges and an urban planner/activist calling for fresh faces at City Hall.
Aja Brown, a 31-year-old relative newcomer to the city, was the top vote-getter in the April 16 election, followed closely by former Mayor Omar Bradley. Their one-two finish ensured the ouster of incumbent Eric Perrodin -- an ironic twist, since it was Perrodin who unseated Bradley in 2001.
Bradley, 55, was convicted in 2004 of misappropriating public funds, but an appeals court recently overturned the conviction. He is now awaiting retrial.
During his two terms as mayor of Compton, Bradley was known for his aggressive, in-your-face style. In his campaign to regain the job, he has touted his achievements while in office -- attracting businesses and jobs -- and said he would lower utility bills, fix streets and stabilize the city's finances while continuing to lower the crime rate.
Brown, meanwhile, said she wants to bring a fresh vision to the city.
Although she has only lived in the city for four years, she has gained support from union groups, the county Democratic Party and even county Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. She worked for Compton's community redevelopment agency before being laid off two years ago, and she is the founder of the nonprofit Urban Vision Community Development Corporation, a Compton-based group aimed at promoting economic development and programs for youth.
Brown has called for new leadership in the city, saying she wanted to make municipal government more transparent and responsive to residents, particularly when it comes to development.
In addition to choosing a mayor, residents of the City Council's 2nd District will choose between Councilwoman Lillie Dobson, 74, who is being challenged by Isaac Galvan, who would become the first Latino on the council.
The April primary and today's runoff were Compton's first elections conducted using a district system -- the result of a lawsuit alleging the at-large system diluted the voting strength of Latinos in the city.