Mayor Aja Brown’s smile illuminated the Douglas F. Dollar Hide Community Center as she was sworn into office for her second term on Friday, July 7.
The 35-year-old millennial mayor ensured some 500 onlookers comprised of residents, former and newly-elected city officials, their families, clergy, and celebrities that Compton has entered into a new season and is poised to flourish.
“This is bigger than one person. The Lord has touched the hearts of his people, and they have spoken,” Brown stated.
“It is time to move forward – onward. It is time to finish the work. If it isn’t about progress, it’s petty. Put it aside,” she continued.
As Compton’s second female mayor, Brown made history in 2013 when she became it’s highest ranking official at age 31. She captured 62 percent of the vote to secure her reelection.
“I ran for mayor because I believed I was called to affect change. Instead of complaining, I brought solutions. Leadership requires tough choices. Progress comes at a price. You have to be willing to make tough calls and takes the hits,” said Brown, who was sworn-in by her husband, Van Brown.
She thanked him, along with their families.
“I have seen her serve in every capacity of our lives, whether that’s been in church, whether that’s been in friendship, whether that’s been in mentoring young women, and the list goes on-and-on, and so I’m so pleased that she’s walking in what the Lord gave her to do, and that she’s fulfilling her purpose,” Mr. Brown said.
The mayor proceeded to highlight some strides she’s made in her first four years. Homicides have dropped 75 percent, unemployment has decreased from 18.5 to 6.4 percent, and there is a record-level of new investments, including restaurants, grocery stores, housing, retailers, senior homes, learning institutions, and community development corporations, Brown said.
Next year, the city will break ground on a movie theater, entertainment promenade, and plans for a skating rink are in the works, she said.
Adai Lamar, local voice of the nationally syndicated “Steve Harvey Morning Show,” heard on 102.3 FM-KJLH, was the mistress of ceremony. Before she began the program, violinist Alan Price played the instrumentals to well known Hip-hop and R&B songs by artists such as Rae Sremmurd, Drake, Beyoncé, Bruno Mars, Jhene Aiko, and Pharrell Williams.
Youth – some who knew each song by heart – enjoyed the different approach. Many adults unfamiliar with some of the songs loved hearing soulful artist’s strings over heavy beats. Many rocked from side-to-side during his performance.
After Pastor Ronald Hill of the Love and Unity Christian Fellowship Church prayed for Brown’s continued success, Compton’s City Council was sworn in.
Some expressed extreme excitement when Councilmembers Isaac Galvan and Tana McCoy were presented.
McCoy, a Compton native, has worked for the city for over 40 years. She fought back tears as she acknowledged the love and support of her father, and her deceased mother and son.
“I stand here, because I’m proud to represent you. I am committed to not only to serve the citizens of the 3rd District, but any citizen that is in need of assistance,” McCoy stated.
Galvan spoke from the heart when he shared that he decided to run again to represent the 2nd District, despite family challenges. One of his younger brothers was killed in gun violence, which ultimately resulted in the death of their mother, Galvan said.
He stated that he particularly ran to help raise awareness about how far reaching the impact of gun violence is, which is something victims say all the time.
According to Galvan, his mother was very healthy before his brother was killed, then she began hallucinating, lost her memory, and passed after spending eight months in the hospital.
“Those are the stories that people don’t really … you don’t hear about. You just hear about the person that got shot and killed, but you don’t hear about the affects that it had on the rest of your family members,” Galvan said.
He decided to run again to tell those stories, and to complete the work he helped to begin in his first four years. He helped to usher in free after school sports for all children in Compton, created a free meals program, and brought an ordinance mandating that any developer or company doing business must provide minimally 30 percent of all new jobs to its residents.
“I believe we have a lot more work to do, and I’m excited for the opportunity serve with my colleagues,” Galvan said.
City Attorney Craig Cornwell acknowledged his wife and daughter during his remarks. Many were entertained, particularly as he squeezed in “shout-outs” to thank his family, friends and others for their support.
“There was a lot of learning experience for me during this campaign. It wasn’t easy … there were just a lot of learning moments, but then I reflect to the job, and the job is a learning moment,” stated Cornwell.
“We at Compton, we have our issues. We have our challenges, but one step at a time, we just gotta keep at it,” said Cornwell.