Compton mayoral candidates Omar Bradley and Aja Brown are entering the final stretch of campaigning before facing off in Tuesday's election.
The two candidates beat out Compton's longtime Mayor Eric Perrodin in April's primary, as well as a crowded field of candidates that included former child star Rodney Allen Rippy.
Bradley, who is running for a third term after serving prison time on public corruption charges that were later overturned, hosted a jazz night for the residents of Compton on Saturday afternoon. Hundreds of people — including Isaac Galvan, who, if elected, would be the city's first Latino council member — came out to hear a jazz band's tribute to Mile Davis.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the city, rival Brown hosted a supporter rally attended by county Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.
Brown, with her youthful energy, master's degree in planning from USC and a near-decade of experience working in cities, hopes to convince residents that she has what it takes to move Compton beyond years of chaotic politics, financial meltdowns and a reputation for corruption.
Brown, 31, has neither Bradley's larger-than-life appeal nor his baggage, but she represents a potential changing of the guard in Compton.
"I know what it takes to move cities forward," she said. "It's not about rhetoric and great speaking, but it takes relationships."
Bradley, 55, a former teacher with a master's degree from Cal State Dominguez Hills and an honorary doctorate from an acupuncture school, was raised in Compton and served two terms as mayor before Perrodin unseated him in 2001.
Three years later, he was convicted of misappropriating about $7,500 in public funds by using city money for personal expenses such as golf rounds, cigars and in-room movies at a hotel.
An appeals court reversed the conviction last year, citing a later ruling that found that prosecutors must prove that officials knew or should have known their conduct was illegal. Prosecutors plan to retry Bradley.
As mayor, Bradley cleaned up Compton's streets, created job programs and brought in a hotel and casino. But opponents complained that he was overbearing — sometimes downright frightening — and that he gave jobs to friends and family members.
Bradley's defense attorney acknowledged during his trial that Bradley "pushed, he hustled, he got in people's faces," but said he had to operate that way to get anything done. Many community members believe the charges against him were petty and still remain fiercely loyal to Bradley.
"He was just not mature enough, and now he is," said Forrest R. Smith, 68, who ran against Bradley for City Council in 1989 but now supports him. Smith had his own troubles with the law once; he served prison time in Texas for robbery more than 40 years ago but went on to become a pastor.
"No one takes this lightly, this election, because this will turn everyone around to find that everyone has a second chance," he said.
But others see Bradley as one of a succession of city leaders who abused their authority. "I don't think we need his leadership any more. We saw in concrete evidence over the years what his people did," said Jemel Jones, 32. "We need someone that's fresh."
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