By Shirley Hawkins
Newly elected Compton Mayor Aja Brown, 31, who recently attended the Mayor’s Winter meeting hosted by President Barack Obama, made history last June when she became the youngest and second woman in the city of Compton’s history to be elected mayor.
With a city that has been plagued with gangs, guns, drugs and prostitution and has the highest murder rate in the state, Brown is tirelessly working to change the city’s image.
Brown, a University of Southern California graduate with a bachelor’s and master’s degree in urban planning and economic development, is making progress. In a recent interview with KCAL9’S Bill Whittaker, Brown said that she has established a farmer’s market, is in the process of attracting new businesses to the area and hopes to bring more law enforcement to the city.
Brown has also helped to cut the city’s $40 million debt in half.
The former urban planner with a passion for public service revealed that crime in Compton has personally touched her family. “My great-grandmother was the victim of a home invasion,” Brown said. “Someone broke in and raped and murdered her.” The murderer was never found and Brown’s family fled the city. But after holding down several positions outside of the city, Brown returned to Compton. She ran for mayor against 11 other candidates including former Compton mayor Omar Bradley, who in 2004 was convicted of misappropriating public funds. Brown won by a sixty-four percent of the vote.
Brown has proved to be a popular mayor in Compton, a city with 97,000 residents. As she moves through the city, constituents are quick to approach her and shake her hand, give her a quick hug and shower her with praise for her efforts to improve the city.
Brown is confident about the city’s future. “I am dedicating my life to serving the underserved in Compton and I want to challenge people to take ownership of their community,” she said.
“My focus is being the best mayor that I can be,” Brown told KCAL9. “I think that when you do a great job, other opportunities naturally come about. But I’m really focused on being a great mayor, and I think our city deserves it.”