COMPTON — Mayor Aja Brown has opted to not seek a third term in office after publicly accusing the city’s law enforcement provider of “terrorizing” the city’s nearly 100,000 residents.
Whoever replaces her in the April 20 municipal election will face a $113 million deficit, rising crime and having to repair relationships with Sheriff Alex Villanueva and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
The city clerk has certified 10 candidates seeking the city’s highest office in April. They are Christian Reynaga, Amy Jimenez, Anthony Perry, James Hays, Janet Ortega, Elias Acevedo, Michael Willie, Rodney Lister, Lamar Willis and Emma Sharif.
Sharif, the current city councilwoman representing the 4th District, is the only candidate who has held a political office, serving on both the Compton City Council and school board.
Sharif has firsthand knowledge of the declining city revenue, which led to layoffs, closure of the city’s parks, and the deficit tripling under her watch. City officials are reportedly exploring options to terminate the contract with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, which receives $22 million per year to provide patrol and law enforcement services.
Sharif declined to comment on whether she shared the same sentiment as the current mayor and what her plans are to repair the relationship with the sheriff.
Hays is a businessman who previously worked in the office of the late former District 4 Councilman Willie Jones. Hays believes sitting down with the sheriff is the first step towards rebuilding.
“As mayor, the first thing I will do is meet with Sheriff Villanueva to review our contract,” Hays said. “I am a strong proponent of community policing, which goes beyond responding to crime, because it involves education and visibility of law enforcement in the community.”
Hays also wants to involve county Supervisor Holly Mitchell, who represents the 2nd Supervisorial District, which includes Compton.
“We need our community to trust the deputies and hold family nights in the parks, to foster relationships between the department and the residents,” said Perry, who previously ran for Compton school board and the state Senate.
“We need to bring back a special task force of citizens and deputies so the residents can assimilate into law enforcement, as our charter is written,” said Willis, who owns and operates group homes in the city.
“I’m probably in the minority of those running for mayor, because I don’t believe in defunding the police,” Lister said. “Sheriff’s [deputies] in Compton have been overly aggressive and when the deputies don’t reflect your community, they don’t treat you like a neighbor but I do believe we should have fixed Compton Police Department rather than implode it.”
“We need love and unity between the sheriff and our city and bring back assigning a deputy to work closely with the city’s block clubs,” Reynaga said.
Overall, there also was unified concern about addressing crime to ensure the safety of the city’s youth and school board leaders look forward to working with the incoming leadership to keep the children safe.
“The district has always maintained a collaborative relationship with the city of Compton,” school board President Micah Ali said. “Of course, with new leadership comes new opportunities to deepen and strengthen relationships on behalf of the betterment of the students and families of Compton.”
2 Urban Girls is a freelance reporter for Wave Newspapers who covers the Compton and Inglewood areas. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.