Compton mayoral candidates decry smear campaign

By 2UrbanGirls

Contributing Writer

COMPTON — Voters here are in the midst of an all vote-by-mail election that will culminate April 20.

Residents are complaining of nasty attacks on candidates seeking to replace Mayor Aja Brown and those seeking to represent residents on the City Council in Districts 2 and 3.

Sources within the Los Angeles County Registrar and Recorder’s Office shared that turnout so far is at an all-time low with a dismal 1,000 ballots being received by their office.

Many blame voter apathy on the barrage of negative campaign tactics, which include a social media live broadcast by Mayor Brown March 22, where she lodged a verbal tirade against those seeking to replace her.

“We have candidates who have been convicted of financial crimes, fraud, forgery and aren’t being transparent with the residents,” Brown said. “This same person is also claiming to be a scientist.”

Residents found her comments insulting to the candidates.

“The soon-to-be ex-mayor has insulted not only each person vying to fill the Compton mayor’s office, but literally insulted every resident of the city of Compton,” said Jonathan Taylor, a longtime Compton resident.

Candidate James Hays wants to set the record straight on his background, which includes previous legal issues and to debate whether his professional background is legitimate.

With respect to my prior legal issues, I have always expressed that as a younger man, in my 30s, I did make those errors in judgment, without criminal intent, and I believe that if the sensationalism had been removed, everyone would have had a clearer picture,” said Hays, who previously served on the city’s Planning and Parks and Recreation commissions. 

“It was sensationalized because even then I was a political figure, as a City Council candidate in 1985, I never benefited financially or attempted to. The experiences had great impacts on me and my family. After leaving the YMCA in good standing, I was able to change careers and become successful and remained active in the city.”  

Hays points to his founding of a bioscience company and 30 years in the bioscience field, as ways he has changed his life for the better.

While you cannot erase the past, I would like people to look at the whole record and see that I have been a very positive force in Compton before and after those legal issues, and my experiences, including times of adversity, have prepared me very well to serve as Mayor,” Hays said.

Hays is a member of several professional organizations related to his work in regenerative medicine and is a certified tissue banking specialist.

Brown and her husband, have also been accused by residents of engaging in smear campaigns, since the mayor publicly came out in support of Christian Reynaga to succeed her. She spoke about candidate’s legal issues related to domestic violence, which prompted candidates to defend themselves.

“The mayor and her husband both reached out to me and said that they were not talking about me, which is a problem that they don’t fully comprehend,” said Rodney Lister, another mayoral candidate and current oversight commission member for Compton Community College.

“I was mistaken in thinking she was speaking to a very sensitive matter of my past, and allegedly, when she spoke on domestic violence she was speaking about another candidate.”

Lister likened the comments as smearing.

“When you speak on something without providing details [or] names [of] innocent people, people who are not involved in drama become collateral damage to those you are smearing,” Lister said.

Residents have until April 20 to return their ballots either by mail, or to one of several ballot boxes located throughout the city.

2 Urban Girls is a freelance reporter for Wave Newspapers who covers the Compton and Inglewood areas. She can be reached at