Compton, CA–Recently I had the opportunity to interview Compton’s current Mayor Aja Brown, who has been the Mayor of Compton the last eight years. Compton is currently at the end of their 2021 elections, where the seat for Mayor as well as several city council seats. Our conversation touched on various topics, from Mayor Brown’s time in office, to her choices to endorse her current seat to Latino Candidate Christain Reynaga. When Brown announced this decision to her social media accounts, she received praise, as well as criticism.
Black community members felt that Brown should have endorsed her seat to a Black candidate, as a Black woman in a political leadership role.
Many questioned if Mayor Brown had worked to help groom the next generation of young, Black youth for political roles during her time as Mayor of Compton. During our interview, Mayor Brown clarified that not only did she mentor and work with various young, Black, promising minds–she worked closely with several Black organizations and supported many Black-women running for various political roles.
“As a Black-woman in this role, I have been highly disrespected. People will come to me privately and say, I don’t know how you stand with people lying and being disrespectful continuously. How many people have went to an elder person and said you know, you shouldn’t speak to her this way–that’s our Mayor,” said Mayor Brown.
Brown also said that she worked closely with her Chief of Staff for the last seven years and hoped she would have succeeded Brown in her role as Mayor.
However, after witnessing Brown’s experiences as Mayor of Compton, she declined to run.
“I have had to endure so much sitting in this role and I could not ask her at this stage, after everything we have been through with Covid, to step forward into this role. Especially because she just lost her father to Covid.” Brown detailed. “She served with me through it all. We have cried, prayed and fasted for Compton. You all would never know the full story until maybe one day I’ll write a book on it.”
Brown says the decisions behind who she chooses to support for political office, has more to do with their qualifications for leadership and less with their race. For her, the requirements for leadership include if you have a record of serving when no one is looking. To Brown, Christain Reynaga has done that.
After receiving a full ride for her undergrad where she studied Policy, Planning & Development at The University of California, she went on to receive her Master’s in Urban Planning. Brown’s educational background and specific focus has been in urban planning and economic development.
This interest can be reflected in Brown’s initiatives while Mayor including the Compton pledge, where monthly supplemental income will be provided to select families in Compton. The program is currently in the pilot stage for the next two years.
Universal basic income was presented first by Andrew Yang during his 2020 presidential campaign, to help address the growing wealth gap in the U.S. Yang wanted to present Americans with $1000 extra monthly income. Although Yang did not win his presidential bid, his idea for guaranteed basic income is now being tested in several cities.
Including, most recently, Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles.
Our discussion touched on several topics including what Mayor Brown plans to do next after she leaves the role of Mayor, her decisions to endorse Presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg and his visit to Compton, as well as the issue of deputy gangs within the Compton Sheriff’s station.