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Compton chooses political newcomer Aja Brown as next mayor

ElectionsPoliticsMark Ridley-Thomas

Compton voters chose new over old in a mayoral election that saw political newcomer Aja Brown beat out controversial former Mayor Omar Bradley.

Bradley conceded the race early Wednesday morning. Initial results showed Brown winning 4,143 to 2,360.

Supporters of Brown, a 31-year-old urban planner, blew noisemakers and shouted "Happy New Year!" and "Happy New Compton!" as the results came in.

Brown made an emotional thank-you speech to her supporters and family and was quickly besieged by volunteers wanting their pictures taken with the new mayor-elect. 

"I believe the people of Compton are ready for change," she said. "They've spoken. Their voice has clearly been heard that they don't want to go backward. They want to go forward."

Shannon Phillips, 44, met Brown through the church they both attend, Faith Inspirational, where Brown and her husband lead a youth group. Phillips, a lifelong Compton resident, said she believed Brown would be able to help the youth in Compton because she had been able to reach Phillips' own teenage son.

"She's going to be the best thing to happen to Compton," Phillips said. "We've had a lot of disappointments. I think she's going to be the one to make change."

Brown's opponent, Bradley, was convicted in 2004 of misappropriating about $7,500 in public funds for personal expenses. An appeals court reversed the conviction last year, but Bradley faces retrial on the charges.

Bradley retains a base of fiercely devoted supporters, but others saw his attempt at a political comeback as misguided.

"I don't understand why he would run again, because it's true that he's facing possible trial again. Why would you put the city through that?" said Brown supporter Kevin Monk, 47.

County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who endorsed Brown, said of the results, "I think it says that the majority of voters in the city of Compton wanted to look forward, not backward.... This is an important city and I take seriously the opportunities that Compton represents, and I feel that many good things can happen in this city."

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abby.sewell@latimes.com

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