Initial election results in Compton’s hotly contested race for mayor showed political newcomer Aja Brown and former mayor Omar Bradley -- whose 2004 conviction on corruption charges was overturned by an appeals court last year -- heading into a runoff.
The results apparently signal an ouster of Mayor Eric Perrodin, a deputy district attorney and former Compton police officer who unseated Bradley in 2001.
Brown, a 31-year-old community development specialist who picked up the support of unions and high-powered friends such as county Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, was narrowly in the lead with 1,601 votes to Bradley’s 1,509, while Perrodin was trailing with 1,443.
However, with 1,176 vote-by-mail and provisional ballots yet to be verified and counted, the results could change.
Bradley ran for the office despite the fact that he is facing a second trial on charges of misappropriating public funds. He touted himself as the only candidate with the experience to help the city recover from a $40-million deficit, and many voters apparently agreed.
Brown, on the other hand, called for "a new generation of leaders" in the city.
That message reached people such as Donald Patton, 52, who said he normally stays home for the municipal race but felt this election was too important to skip. With the city recovering from a fiscal crisis, he said he wanted to make sure the next set of leaders can push the city forward. He said he cast his vote for Brown.
"It's good to have somebody young with fresh ideas," Patton said. "I just want to see change in my community."
In the unofficial results, the nine other contenders who ran for mayor were all trailing far behind. Former child star Rodney Allen Rippy, who moved to Compton in December to run for the post, had only 75 votes.
The election was the first conducted under new by-district voting rules and new district boundaries for City Council seats. The new rules were expected to give Latinos -- who make up a majority of Compton’s population but a minority of eligible voters -- a better chance of electing a candidate of their choice.
Several Latino candidates ran for the two open council seats. One of them, Isaac Galvan, appeared headed to a runoff with Councilwoman Lillie Dobson, an ally of Perrodin’s. The other incumbent councilwoman, Yvonne Arceneaux, appeared to be handily beating four challengers, including three Latinas.
Voters also appeared poised to approve a ballot measure that would force the city to keep its contract with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department unless voters once again approve a change. Perrodin led an attempt to reestablish the Compton Police Department, which was ultimately abandoned by the council when the city's fiscal plight became evident.
Despite widespread interest in the election, few voters went to the polls. Voter turnout was listed at 13%.