Compton council races up for grabs
Voter apathy would favor council incumbents in Districts 1 and 4 The only hope for Compton in the forthcoming City Council races in Districts 1 and 4 is a new wave of energy – not re-circulation
Voter apathy would favor council incumbents in Districts 1 and 4
The only hope for Compton in the forthcoming City Council races in Districts 1 and 4 is a new wave of energy – not re-circulation of the same apathy from one election to the next that has stagnated the city for better than two decades.
The Council and mayor currently are locked in a stalemate achieving nothing. Potholes, revamped city center, new jobs, balanced budget, reduced deficit, logical clear-thinking leadership – all shortcomings. None have been accomplished.
People in small towns like Compton, Carson, Lynwood, and Paramount, generally are working-class citizens who pay for the city’s upkeep through taxes on city utilities like water, electric, gas, garbage collection, and bond measures, but that’s usually the extent of their involvement in the governing process, rarely-to-never attending council sessions or voting in significant numbers.
Generally speaking, the citizens only get riled when problems walk up to them and smack them in the face – like potholes large enough to damage off-road vehicles, malodorous, discolored local drinking water; inoperable street and park lighting or a $3.6 million heist from the City Treasurer’s office.
Political infighting concerning who is going to control and manipulate the city purse strings is only the concern of a minority few like “gadflies” and those aspiring to the very political seats they hold to scorn.
In this case, Councilpersons Janna Zurita and Emma Sharif are squarely in the crosshairs – the former more than the latter. The fight to maintain the status quo for opposing political factions is for “three votes” in the council, without which nothing is attainable – namely the follow-through on city promises like the pothole repair of potholes, the lure of new business, and resurrection of a new downtown.
Opposing factions will prevent the other from achieving agendas purely out of spite, based on petty personality differences. The infighting is catty, ignorant and immature.
Politics is politics. Nothing much changes city-to-city. In Compton detractors say Mayor Brown had an agenda when she took the helm to revitalize Compton – not as a small town, but as a city in sync with Los Angeles County plans to transform Compton into a major industrial hub with a direct link to the Port of L.A. The mayor’s enemies see it as a “Sell Out of Compton.”
Brown’s detractors are convinced this is underway and have effectively stymied her advance, often with three votes in opposition – Zurita, Emma Sharif, and Tana McCoy, the latter entrenched through 2020.
The mayor, on the other hand, has only been able to rely on Isaac Galvan who is also dug-in through 2020, for two votes (including her own). The “wild card” is Sharif, who has voted independently often enough as not to be a reliable three-vote lock, either way.
In District 1, the opposition to Zurita aims to derail her as the representative. The two-term councilperson narrowly won the office in 2011 with 1,637 votes or 51 percent to Barbara Calhoun’s 1,528 votes and 48 percent. In 2015, Zurita managed only 892 votes or 52.8 percent. Her closest opponent, Richard Alatorre attracted 795 votes for 47.1 percent.
Zurita may face her stiffest test this time with five challengers – Jasper Jay Jackson, Ronald Green, Michelle Chambers, Richard Alatorre, and Francisco Rodriguez – which will likely throw her into a runoff without a 50.1 percent majority if she is the top vote-getter. It is possible, however, she will not even finish in the top two, which means a new councilperson would assume the mantle of leadership for the first time since 2011.
Those close to the political scene here believe Mayor Brown has strategically inserted at least two surrogates in the race to shave Zurita’s vote total to force a runoff with her or eliminate her altogether, assuring a third vote on the council. If the incumbent can do no better than the 892 votes she commanded in 2015 – a little more than half the total of her breakout-year win, the top-two contenders need only 900-1,000 ballots to unseat her off or one contender needs to top 50 percent + 1 of the vote to win outright.
In District 4, Sharif may have an easier time opposed by just one opponent – Inez “Tootie” Adkins, a neophyte with little political experience. Sharif tallied 507 votes or 55.6 percent to veteran Willie O. Jones’ 404 votes or 44.3 percent in 2015. But if Sharif can garner no more than 507 votes in the March Primary, she may be vulnerable to Adkins, if the newcomer can muster a strong showing. Adkins also is reputed to be a surrogate of Brown.