Compton residents split on marijuana sales

COMPTON — The debate over whether to allow the sale of marijuana continues as a petition is circulating to put a measure on the November ballot to permit dispensaries to operate legally in the city.

“Compton already has marijuana businesses operating in the city without any controls,” said Bill Ivey, the resident who filed the initiative. “If it is legal, we could have better regulated, unionized dispensaries.”

Voters in California last November approved Proposition 64, legalizing the recreational use of marijuana for adults over the age of 21. That law takes effect next Jan. 1.

Until then, it is still illegal to sell the drug and grow it for commercial purposes in Compton.

Ivey, who also ran an unsuccessful campaign for District 2 on the Compton City Council in April, said his union, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 324, asked him to file the motion for the referendum. In order to get on the ballot, the petition would need the support of 15 percent of the registered voters in the city.

An employee at a marijuana dispensary prepares an order for a customer. Downey became the second area city to vote to ban all sales of marijuana when the drug becomes legal for recreational use next Jan. 1. (File photo)

UFCW represents those employed in the food, dental, financial, health care, optometry, packing house, processing, retail drug and merchandise industries.

Ivey’s action has prompted a backlash from other residents, who question the motives of outside interests who are not stakeholders in the city.

“I talked to one of the walkers with the petition and she doesn’t even live in Compton, she lives in West L.A.,” said Jackie Barra, a resident who has lived in Compton since 1968.

“I asked her if she was being paid, and she responded with, ‘why would I be walking out here in the hot sun if I wasn’t?”

Another concern is that allowing the industry in Compton would create more targets for robberies and crime. Since the federal government still classifies marijuana as an illegal drug, many banks will not open accounts for dispensaries.

Barra referenced a shooting on July 19 during an attempted armed robbery at a South Los Angeles pot dispensary that resulted in the death of a security guard and three others being wounded.

“We’ve already had a crack epidemic in this town and we’re not quite over that,” Barra said. “We don’t need this!”

Barra has sent out for yard signs protesting the legalization of marijuana and said she has given out about 100 over the course of two weeks. She also said she created a counter petition but does not want to send it out for fear of further confusion.

Regarding the fear of violence, Ivey said that with the revenue from legal dispensaries, the city could afford to take additional measures to increase safety.

“They could install a surveillance system. It won’t stop all crime, but at least it would be a deterrence,” he said. “Legalization would bring scrutiny and guidelines.”

At the July 25 City Council meeting, the City Council voted down a resolution from Councilman Isaac Galvan to authorize a private law firm, Greenberg Gross LLP to assist with litigation to enforce the ban of marijuana.

Although she opposes the sale of the drug in the city, longtime resident Susan Adams is glad the resolution did not pass.

“Although it seems helpful in theory, this firm has represented both sides of the cannabis industry,” she said. “A client conflict of interest could arise and what would happen then?”

She also questioned the need to involve an outside firm when the city attorneys could prioritize the issue and keep the money in Compton.

Five challenge Brown in Compton mayor’s race

COMPTON — Four years ago, Aja Brown was a virtual unknown when she unseated three-term Mayor Eric Perrodin.

Brown outpolled Perrodin in the primary election and then knocked off two-time former Mayor Omar Bradley in the general election.

After four years of leading the city, Brown is seeking re-election in the April 18 primary election and facing five challengers, including Bradley.

Also on the ballot are Lynne Rodgers Boone, Bryan O. Parker, James Hays and Ernest “Scooby” Green.

Among the issues concerning the mayoral candidates, repairing city streets seems to be the biggest public concern, as well as the recent arrest of the former deputy city treasurer on embezzlement charges,

Brown says she has reduced the city’s deficit, which was $42 million when she took over four years ago. She also says she has repaved 90 streets and repaired 20,000 potholes.

But the three challengers who issued statements to the city’s voting pamphlets all indicated that fixing streets was among their top priorities.

Bradley, who lost to Brown by 2,000 votes in the general election four years ago, claims he isn’t the same person he was when he served as mayor from 1993 to 2001. Then, Bradley was known as the gangsta mayor.

After spending time in jail for misuse of public funds (he was charged and convicted after leaving office and is awaiting retrial after having the conviction overturned on appeal), Bradley wants to repair streets, fill potholes, trim trees, repair sidewalks, reduce crime and improve city services.

Hays is a local businessman who grew up in the city and serves on the city Planning Commission and is a former president of the Rotary Club. He wants to create jobs and bring new businesses to the city.

Green is another local businessman who grew up in the city. He wants to unify the city and “eliminate the stigmas and exaggerations” that have held the city back for decades.

“Wrong has already had its turn,” he said in his ballot statement.

Boone and Parker did not issue ballot statements,

In addition to the mayor’s office, there are two City Council seats up for re-election as well as the city attorney, city clerk and city treasurer offices.

In City Council District 2, incumbent Isaac Galvan is being challenged by Bill Ivey, Al Hamade and Jacqueline Venters.

In City Council District 3, incumbent Tana McCoy is being challenged by Chris Petit, Robert Ray, Tomas Carlos and Joyce Kelly.

Incumbent City Attorney Craig Cornwell is being challenged by Marcus Musante, City Clerk Alita Godwin is being challenged by school board President Satra Zurita and City Treasurer Douglas Sanders is being challenged by Jasper “Jay” Jackson and Jenise A. Davis.

Jackson has been especially vocal about the arrest of Salvador Galvan last month. The former deputy treasurer is accused of embezzling $3.7 million from the city from May 2010 through last December.

All candidates must receive more than 50 percent of the vote to avoid the runoff election June 6.

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

 

Compton Mayor Brown draws five challengers for April election

COMPTON —The field of candidates vying for elected office in the city is expansive, including five candidates hoping to unseat Mayor Aja Brown, who made history in 2013 when she became Compton’s youngest mayor.

Brown won that election, defeating both incumbent Mayor Eric J. Perrodin and former Mayor Omar Bradley. Bradley will appear on the ballot along with Lynne Rodgers Boone, Bryan O. Parker, James Hays and Ernest “Scooby” Green, when the city’s primary election is held April 18.

The two candidates receiving the most votes for mayor will face off in the general election June 6. Voters may cast their ballot for one mayoral candidate only.

Ann Crigler, professor of political science at USC, explained that off-year elections historically see less voter participation and that primary elections sometimes determine the general election results.

It’s anyone’s guess, however, what the outcome will be in Compton.

“Off-year elections generally don’t get as much attention and tend to attract less interest,” Crigler said. “In this case, you have forces going both ways. Some voters are tired of the election process and, then with Trump being elected, people are starting to be concerned. They don’t want to be in a country or place that advocates the kinds of things that Trump is advocating. Voter registrations are up.”

Crigler noted that after only one term in office, Brown had several challengers for re-election.

“I can’t tell you what the outcome of the election will be, but I think it’s a good sign that so many people want to be involved in the political process,” she said.

There will not be any ballot measures on the April 18 ballot.

In addition to the mayor’s office, there are two City Council seats up for re-election as well as the city attorney, city clerk and city treasurer offices.

In City Council District 2, incumbent Isaac Galvan is being challenged by Bill Ivey, Al Hamade and Jacqueline Venters.

In City Council District 3, incumbent Tana McCoy is being challenged by Chris Petit, Robert Ray, Tomas Carlos and Joyce Kelly.

Incumbent City Attorney Craig Cornwell is being challenged by Marcus Musante, City Clerk Alita Godwin is being challenged by school board President Satra Zurita and City Treasurer Douglas Sanders is being challenged by Jasper “Jay” Jackson and Jenise A. Davis.

Voters may find a sample ballot on the city’s website, which includes background information on each candidate and their plans for the office if elected.

As of November 2016, there were 43,643 registered voters in the city of Compton, according to the Countty Registrar’s office.

The last day to register to vote for the primary election is April 3. Voters may request vote-by-mail applications from March 20 to April 11.