Compton residents can continue to call Aja Brown their mayor, since on Tuesday, June 6, she beat out former Compton Mayor Omar Bradley in a runoff. Brown won by a landslide, garnering 60 percent of the vote, including votes by mail. Now, she said, she will continue the work of moving the city forward.
“I’m humbled and grateful that Compton residents have put their trust in me to serve as their mayor for another term,” said Brown via a statement on election night.
“I’m looking forward to finishing the work that we’ve started. It’s been an incredible journey and I’m extremely honored to be able serve the great city of Compton for another term.”
In April, Brown had not quite captured 50 percent of the vote, what she would have needed to avoid the runoff. Bradley meanwhile, had been preparing for the runoff and had threatened to “run [Brown] back to Pasadena where she belongs.”
But apparently Compton disagrees and wants to give Brown a chance to finish her work. That work includes a “12-Point Plan” designed to strategically advance the city of Compton. So far, she has made it a point to address existing problems on multiple fronts, including youth development, infrastructure, working with educational coalitions and economic development. Brown has also made the plan “accessible for the residents to follow along with the progress of the city,” she said to reporters earlier in her mayoral career.
In 2014, Brown began reaching out to Compton Bloods and Crips gang leaders through former members to negotiate peace. She uses conflict mitigation instead of heavy policing. Since the gangs started regular meetings, violent activity was reduced by about 65 percent compared to the all-time high some 25 years ago.
Brown began her political career while still attending USC as an Economic Development Analyst for the city of Gardena. She graduated in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in public policy, urban planning and development. A year later in 2005, she earned a master’s degree in urban planning with a concentration in economic development.
She moved on to the city of Inglewood as an urban planner but left after a year for Pasadena to serve as that city’s planning commissioner. Brown arrived in Compton in 2009 to take part in the city’s Redevelopment Agency, focusing on revitalization. She was responsible for creating community benefits legislation, initiating community-led downtown revitalization action committees, and overseeing the Agency’s urban planning and economic development initiatives. Brown also created and implemented Compton’s Apprentice Program designed to create jobs for local residents on city-funded or assisted capital improvement projects.
In 2011, Brown co-founded the Urban Vision Community Development Corporation, a non-profit organization in Compton dedicated to community economic and youth development. She also developed several re-branding programs that have achieved success in various cities, and she was awarded the “Best 2012 Communicator Design Award” for her “Yes!” campaign for the City of Compton. She has been instrumental in marketing Compton’s buyer’s program for first-time home buyers, as well as programs to attract expertise in land use and transportation.
“No matter who you voted for today, thank you for doing your part by voting,” Brown wrote in a statement posted on her social media.
“Compton belongs to us–the residents–and it’s important that we exercise our right to vote to ensure that we move our city forward. A special thank you to all of the volunteers, supporters and voters who chose to finish the work and helped us get across the finish line. None of this would have been possible without you. Thank you!”
At age 35, Brown is the youngest mayor in the history of the city.