New Hope for Compton: Why I Support Aja Brown

aja.jpgEvery once in awhile a leader comes along that has enough courage, determination and ideas to challenge the existing order and bring real change and progress to a community.

Aja Brown, candidate for Mayor of Compton, is that kind of leader.

I support Aja, and here is why you should too;

Aja is a new force on the political scene, but that is just what Compton needs.  Her experience as an urban planner and willingness to offer specific plans to address Compton's longstanding problems are what sets her apart from her opposition.

For more information about Aja and how you can get involved with her campaign, visit VisionforCompton.org.  On her site you will find her specific plans for Compton that address crime reduction, youth development, economic development and reform.  All of these programs will lead to what she calls "rebranding Compton."  In order to attract more businesses and improve the community this is just what needs to happen.

You can read about her in the article below taken from Wave Newspapers:

Aja Brown, a 31-year-old, third-generation resident of Compton, is one of the 10 people running for mayor of Compton in next Tuesday’s election, and despite this being her first foray into politics, she is a candidate with an impressive string of high-powered endorsements.

Brown, who worked two years and one month as project manager of Compton’s Community Development Agency from 2009 to 2011, has spent her entire 10-year career in urban planning and community development pursuits, for which she holds college degrees. In fact, Brown earned a B.S. in policy, planning and development in 2004 from USC, and went on to earn a master’s degree from USC in planning and development.

Armed with sufficient sheepskin, Brown began tackling planning and development issues in the cities of Gardena, Pasadena and Inglewood before accepting her most recent position in Compton.

When asked why she kept moving from city-to-city, she said, “Each city was bigger than the last and each provided me greater challenges and opportunities to effect meaningful changes.”

Brown was the economic development analyst and “brownfield” coordinator during the two years she work for the city of Gardena, and was the senior administrative analyst/senior planner for the three years she worked for the city of Inglewood. For almost two years, Brown was the planning commissioner for the city of Pasadena, where she sat on the Board of Zoning Appeals and enforced Pasadena’s general plan, specific plans and zoning ordinances affecting the city’s developments, with respect to land use, size and magnitude.

Beckoned by the civic turmoil in Compton, Brown and her husband, Van Brown, moved back in 2009 to the city in which she grew up and in which her mother and her grandmother lived. “I moved back to the city of Compton to effect change,” Brown declared. “I worked with the Compton Community Development Agency to obtain an historic $100 million tax allocation bond; I garnered millions in in-kind resources, grant funds and investments.

“I formed alliances and partnerships to create impact and spearheaded effective award-winning marketing campaigns,” Brown continued.

In addition, Brown said she got a $1 million grant that allowed the Environmental Protection Agency to remove the underground contamination in Compton and obtained another $1 million grant so the Urban Land Institute could conduct a study of how best to revitalize Compton’s downtown area.

Brown said she also created the Compton Apprenticeship Program in 2010 to make sure Compton residents were trained and could thus be employed to work on publicly funded development projects, rather than have scores of people from other areas flocking to Compton to do the work.

As she rattled off her accomplishments as Compton’s CRA project manager, I asked her why, then, is Compton in such a mess — a mess so bad that the city became the subject of a riveting television documentary last month?

She replied that it’s in a mess because of unstable leadership.

“We’ve had 11 city managers and 14 changes in city management in the last 20 years, [with some of the managers returning to take another stab at it],” Brown said. “Policy is made at the top and we need real change at the top that is codified in the city’s modus operandi in order to create an environment that can sustain growth. Without stability we have no continuous vision to propel us forward.

“You know, Compton qualifies for everything, but we have to have the will and constancy to go and get what we need to create wealth, eradicate generational poverty and empower businesses to expand. We need to turn property owners into stakeholders and involve them in a community working in tandem with a transparent government,” Brown said.

Brown has a passion for serving and developing young people. She and her husband are co-youth directors of Faith Inspirational Missionary Baptist Church in Compton, and as an outgrowth of their ministry, the pair founded the Urban Vision Community Development Corporation, where they mentor children and counsel and prepare them to compete in a world of successful adults.

Oh, her endorsements. To date, Brown has been endorsed by the Los Angels County Democratic Party, the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, the SEIU and AFSCME unions, County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, Pasadena and Gardena City Council members, 13 ministers and an assortment of community activists and other elected officials.

So, if you live in Compton make sure you vote for Aja and after she is elected, make sure you offer your help in helping move Compton forward.


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