Politiscape 2017: Compton incumbent mayor launches re-election bid
Incumbent mayor Aja Brown sets stage for re-election bid with Progress Report on City’s movement By JASMYNE CANNICK COMPTON – In preparation of the release of her highly anticipated three-year report entitled A New Vision for Compton,
Incumbent mayor Aja Brown sets stage for re-election bid with Progress Report on City’s movement
By JASMYNE CANNICK
COMPTON – In preparation of the release of her highly anticipated three-year report entitled A New Vision for Compton, Mayor Aja Brown has released a progress report for residents and stakeholders detailing performance metrics under her leadership in working towards key priorities for the city.
The snapshot is a one sheet that outlines the advances made since Brown took office in 2013 and sets the tone for her re-election campaign – “promises made, promises kept” and her re-election campaign slogan, “Let’s finish the work!”
At 31, Brown made history as Compton’s youngest elected mayor. A national trailblazer, Brown’s New Vision for Compton is a revitalization strategy centered on 12-key principles that focus on family values, quality of life, economic development and infrastructural growth.
“During my inaugural State of the City address I shared our community’s vision for Compton and my plans to uplift and strengthen all residents,” she explained. “I promised to push forward initiatives and an agenda that put Compton first.
“When I took office in 2013, I inherited a $42 million general fund deficit. The City’s employees were on furloughs in the aftermath of massive employee layoffs in 2011, which reduced the workforce by approximately 200 workers. With fewer employees, growing residential and business service demands, an aging infrastructure and a host of financial and regulatory challenges, I assumed office with a massive mission – to stabilize our community,” Brown added.
Brown said more than 90 percent of the city’s streets hadn’t been repaved in nearly 30 years, while some streets hadn’t been paved in half a century. She said the city lacked the basic tools to begin to address its failed infrastructure system.
“There was no capital improvement plan or infrastructure assessment report on file to even understand the magnitude and cost of the issue,” she said. “Citizens were angry, businesses were weary and to top it off the city had lost its credit rating. Compton was in poor standing with many vendors and owed outstanding debts to outside agencies due to poor internal operations and a lack of continuity in key governmental positions.
“With all of these challenges, I looked to our residents months before assuming office on where to begin. I held focus groups and heard directly what the residents of Compton wanted for our community. When I came into office, because of their insight, I was well equipped with a game plan that was built on the values of the Compton community and one that provided a vision.”
By the Numbers—A Snapshot of Progress
Since assuming office, Brown asserts that unemployment is down 10 percent to 8 percent from 18. The city has collected an additional $4 million in tax revenue and there are 4,824 new companies doing business in Compton. When Walmart opened, the mayor said over 37 percent of the employees were Compton residents as a part of a new city ordinance that requires all city supported development projects to make resident at least 35 percent of their workforce.
Public Safety and Youth Development
“Reducing crime in Compton has always been a challenge,” Brown said. “But over the past three years we have worked collectively with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and other agencies to create new programming and bring federal resources to Compton including the Violence Reduction Network, town sheriff’s program, eliminating hourly motel rentals, a new gang intervention program and major arrest for human trafficking.”
Between 2013 and 2015, 562 Compton youth were hired for jobs and were also chosen to participate in an exploratory program inspired by President Obama.
“Mentoring and educational activities were made available over 400 young people in Compton in partnership with Compton’s My Brother’s Keeper program—a program that Compton youth visit the White House in 2016,” Brown noted.
A Healthier Compton
The mayor says that more than 300 pounds were lost as a part of Brown’s Healthy Compton initiative that saw the city’s first citywide community health challenge. A new playground was built at South Park, basketball courts repaved at Kelly Park and the Court of Champions christened and Venus and Serena Williams at Lueders Park.
Fixing Compton’s Streets
One of the most significant investments in Compton’s future said Brown, was the passage of Measure P by voters in June. In 2014, Mayor Brown introduced the idea of bringing forward a ballot measure to fix city streets, add street lighting, restore parks and improve overall public safety.
Known as the Vital City Services and Neighborhood Protection Measure, Measure P was passed by Compton residents in June of last year, providing critical funding to repair every street, repave our main thoroughfares, and establish a street maintenance fund. The Measure will also increase lighting, strengthen public safety and stabilize basic city services.
Measure P is projected to generate $8 million in 2017 to improve streets, parks and public safety.
“For those who followed my campaign, you know that I promised to introduce a measure to not only fix our streets — but to maintain them and secure the funds for the future so that regardless of who is in office, our tax dollars will be protected and used for the intended purpose,” Brown explained.
She broke it down further.
“After completing a full analysis on the most effective and cost-efficient way to utilize the funds and to have the greatest impact while paving the largest number of streets as quickly as possible, our city manager introduced a plan to use approximately $3.5 million of the $8 million received annually, to generate $70 million to pave all of Compton’s major thoroughfares,” she said.
“This would include Wilmington Ave., Compton Blvd., Long Beach Blvd., Artesia Blvd., Santa Fe Ave. and Alameda St. and repairs to residential streets beginning in the summer of 2017. Under this plan, we would still have nearly $5 million per year to fund other infrastructure projects encompassed in Measure P including additional city lighting, park restoration, fixing the city yard, and repairs to our fire stations.
“All of this work would create hundreds of jobs for Compton residents, including our young people, through apprentice programs and construction projects. For those that remember the Century Freeway project and the opportunity it gave Compton residents to get into the building trades and earn a great living for their families — this program will have the same impact for our city.
“While we have made substantial progress in Compton over the last three years, there are many projects and initiatives that we need to finish together,” said Brown. “I look forward to continuing the transformation in Compton and working to make our community a better place to live, work, and play. Let’s Finish The Work!”
Jasmyne Cannick is a free-lance journalist and commentator based in Los Angeles.