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Why apathy rules Compton

Compton has one more chance on June 6 in the general election to muster a showing

Compton Herald | apathy
Photo: Flickr/KOMUnews

Compton is asleep and snoring; 45,135 registered voters only manage to cast 5,241 ballots on April 18

The residents of Compton are not upset about their mayor, their city government, or the direction of the city. Not if their show at the polls is any indication.

Of 45,135 registered voters in a city shy of 100,000 residents, only 5,241 managed to make it to polls in the Tuesday primary election on April 18. That amounted to a paltry 11.6 percent.

This election was supposed to be a referendum on change, an outpouring of public dissent on the direction of the city, with the mayor’s race as the main event. According to detractors of the status quo, this election was going to toss out the “crooks and cronies” who were selling the people down the proverbial river.

At least that was the script.

Well, the “people” had their chance to reverse the supposed “pillaging,” as it were, and they did not. Besides an idle bomb threat on Super Tuesday in Compton, there was no “great polling event,” no deluge of voters at local precincts, no hour-long waits in lines snaking around the block with anxious voters waiting to cast ballots.

Where were all the angry people? There only was John Q. Apathy and no one else for miles.

What about all the people concerned about the presumed government corruption? Upset about city’s direction? Concern about high taxes? Concern about potholes in the streets? Unemployment? What of the angst about Measure P? There was some validity to the concerns. But, when the people had their day…

Nil, nil. and nil.

Maybe the people are okay with the direction of Compton. Perhaps the rage was all a fertile concoction.

Some say the city is comprised of a majority of undocumented and that accounted for unspirited participation at the ballot box. This has never been documented or denied. Even if it were true, a significant number of English-speaking residents — namely African-Americans, remain. What’s their excuse?

Probably all of the above.

An 11 percent voter turnout is about as abysmal as it gets. Pop-up gophers in Walton Middle School’s grassy expanse and cawing crows in the skies above showed more interest.

Only a handful of “gadflies” that buzz about city council meetings each week are paying attention to what goes on in city affairs. Maybe they should change their approach — dance, sing, yell — because people stopped paying attention to them since the turn of the century.

As for concerned citizens — maybe 10-20 bother to show up in person at council meetings. Perhaps more are watching on video from home.

On the other hand, stacked up against network Tuesday night TV listings, we rather doubt that.

Compton has one more chance on June 6 in the general election to muster a showing. Voters are presented with the opportunity to decide three runoff races — mayor, council district 3, and city treasurer.

Will they show up? If recent history is a gauge, we defer.

Excuse us if our cynicism is showing.

Jarrette Fellows, Jr. is Publisher and Editor of Compton Herald. He attended junior and senior high school in Compton, and is an alumnus of California State University, Los Angeles.


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