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In quest to transform Compton, Mayor Aja Brown looks to Brooklyn for inspiration

Compton mayor Aja Brown standing in front of the Martin Luther King Memorial near Compton City Hall ..
Compton mayor Aja Brown standing in front of the Martin Luther King Memorial near Compton City Hall ..
Stephen Hoffman/KPCC

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Last year the city of Compton elected a new mayor – urban planner Aja Brown.

She is the city's first new mayor in more than 10 years, she won by a landslide and, at only 34, she is Compton's youngest mayor ever to be elected. Shortly after taking office, she pointed to Brooklyn as a model for how a city that was once plagued with problems can find success and growth. 

"Ten years ago people thought that Brooklyn was one of the worst cities on the east coast, but now its considered a hip attractive city for young people to live and to start their roots and to enjoy arts and different things and culture," said Brown on Take Two. "It was really a metaphor for transcending a negative brand and I think that's Compton's challenge right now."

Recently Take Two host A Martinez visited her office to talk to her about her time in office so far, and what are her plans for the future. 

Interview Highlights:

On how she plans to overcome Compton's negative reputation:

"With every opportunity to tell our own story, fiction will always exist and the media will always exist. The average person will not take the time to see if crime is really going down in Compton, or is it the same Compton that it was 20 years ago. It’s my responsibility to tell our story and to let people know that Compton is safer now than it's been in 20 years. We’re still experiencing a reduction in our crime and that we’re still moving forward and we have a lot of great things in place and we have a lot of great institutions."

On working with Compton's growing Latino community: 

"I haven’t had any challenges, I have great relationships with a lot of the Latino leaders here, my only challenge is my Spanish, but I’m working on that! I’m enrolling in another conversational Spanish class, I’m looking forward to being able to communicate with all of my constituents, so that’s my personal commitment."

On how long she expects her plans to produce results:

"I think that the implementation is definitely happening right now, but I think that the measurable impacts like reduction in crime, maybe the improvement in our unemployment rate … those things will take several years, and I’m just being realistic. I think to have transformative systematic change that’s a five to 10 year process.

Even when I ran for office my commitment to the citizens was to serve at least a term and a half, two terms so I’m not trying to just come and leave. My goal is to have a firm foundation, and I want it to be something that’s in place, so regardless of who’s mayor after me they can continue to serve the citizens in the same method and manner that they desire. When you have a healthy system, growth is a natural byproduct."