Compton mayoral candidates Omar Bradley, left, and Aja Brown attend a forum… (Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles…)
Hours after checking out of the hospital, former Compton Mayor Omar Bradley -- who is running for a third term after serving prison time on public corruption charges that were later overturned -- walked into a mayoral forum Saturday and declared that Compton "is in an emergency situation" and "needs someone who knows the road to the hospital."
Bradley, 55, served as mayor of the troubled city from 1993 to 2001. He was defeated by the current mayor, Eric Perrodin, and sent to prison in 2004 for using about $7,500 in public funds to buy items such as golf balls, cigars and in-room movies at a hotel.
A judge overturned his conviction in 2012, and Bradley returned to politics. Although the district attorney's office has said it plans to retry him, Bradley remains beloved by many in Compton, a city of about 100,000 in southeast Los Angeles County.
When he walked into the forum through a side door about 1 p.m., many of the hundreds of residents there burst into applause. One audience member yelled from her seat, "Thank you, God. Now the truth just walked in."
Bradley and his opponent, Aja Brown, an urban planner, spent about an hour discussing how they would tackle issues facing the city, which was on the brink of bankruptcy last year.
In a nod to Bradley's popularity and ability to move a crowd, Brown said Compton needs more than "rhetoric and great speaking."
"I know what it takes to move cities forward," said Brown, who has worked in Inglewood and Pasadena. "It's not about rhetoric and great speaking, but it takes relationships. The city of Compton has been on an island for years and generations and decades and this is what we have."
Some residents expressed concern about Bradley's health.
Bradley missed a forum two days earlier. On Wednesday, he called 911 to his home after experiencing heart palpitations and severe sweats. When paramedics arrived, they were unable to give Bradley medicine to ease the pain because they did not have a cuff large enough to fit his arm to check his blood pressure, he said during his opening statement.
Fearing he was having a heart attack, the paramedics rushed him to a medical center were a team of doctors operated on him. It was discovered that a blood clot "shot up to his lung," he said later.
"I say all of that to say that Compton is in an emergency situation," he said as he sat at the dais. "Compton needs somebody who knows the road to the hospital."
Bradley came in second in April's primary election. Voters will go to the polls June 4 to choose between him and Brown.
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