Initial election results in Compton's hotly contested race for mayor showed former Mayor Omar Bradley — whose 2004 conviction on corruption charges was overturned by an appeals court last year — heading into a runoff with political newcomer Aja Brown.
The results could signal an ouster of Mayor Eric Perrodin, a deputy district attorney and former Compton police officer who unseated Bradley in 2001.
However, with 1,176 vote-by-mail and provisional ballots yet to be verified by the county registrar, the final results may not be known for another week.
Bradley ran for office even though he is facing a second trial on charges of misappropriating public funds. He touted himself as the only candidate with the experience to help the city recover from a $40-million deficit, and many voters apparently agreed, despite the fact that he would be disqualified from office if he is convicted again.
Brown, a 31-year-old community development specialist with backing from unions and county Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, called for "a new generation of leaders" in the city.
That message reached people like Donald Patton, 52, who said he normally sits out municipal elections, but felt this one was too important to skip.
"It's good to have somebody young with fresh ideas," Patton said. "I just want to see change in my community."
Many voters said they were unhappy with Perrodin's administration over rising water bills, cuts in city services and a failed bid to reestablish the Compton Police Department.
But the mayor still has his supporters, like Alex Hopper, 43, who said he voted specifically to keep Bradley from returning.
"I want to make sure those knuckleheads don't get in," Hooper said. "The city is straight right now. Every city has a deficit."
The unofficial results showed Brown leading with 1,601 votes to Bradley's 1,509, while Perrodin was trailing with 1,443.
The nine other contenders who ran for mayor were all far behind. Former child star Rodney Allen Rippy, who moved to Compton in December to run for the post, garnered only 75 votes.
Bradley said he had expected, based on telephone polling, that he would be much farther ahead, and hinted at irregularities in the election process. In his losing bid in 2001, Bradley accused Perrodin of cheating and attempted to get the election results overturned. He said Tuesday that he is not accusing Perrodin of misconduct this time.
Brown and Perrodin could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
The election was the first City Council race conducted under new by-district rules that were expected to give Latinos — who make up a majority of Compton's population but a minority of eligible voters — a better chance of electing a candidate of their choice.
Several Latino candidates ran for the two open council seats. One of them, Isaac Galvan, appeared to be headed to a runoff with Councilwoman Lillie Dobson.
Voters also appeared to be poised to approve a ballot measure that would force the city to keep its contract with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department unless voters once again approve a change.
Despite widespread interest in the election, only 13% of registered voters — or less than 6,000 of the city's nearly 100,000 residents — cast ballots.