• Ursula Vari

COMPTON RISING: AN INTERVIEW WITH COUNCILMAN ANDRE SPICER

Written and Photographed by Ursula Vari

© 2022 All Rights Reserved

"Success for me looks like change. It’s as simple as I can put that. Change from what the stereotype is, what the expectations are. Change all around, changing the streets, changing the gangs, changes in economic development, change with the prostitution, the human trafficking in the city. So, once I start to see those changes then I will feel successful. I can have all the riches in the world but if my people and my community is still suffering – to me that’s not success. " Andre Spicer
Tene Spears, Council Liaison and Councilman Andre Spicer

Growing up in a community where gang violence, drugs and prostitution is a part of everyday life, Andre Spicer chose a different path. At 38 years old, he is a business owner with multiple ventures to his name, a father of three, a committed partner, a radio show host and Compton’s recently sworn-in councilman. Spicer has only been in office for less than 60 days and he has already given out $4000 worth of free gas, provided free groceries and household items to 700 families in his beloved community. Close to a decade of his community activism opened the path for him to bring help to his community on a much larger scale. In May Spicer proved his case that his opponent, Isaac Galvan rigged the votes during the municipal election to secure his own victory. After the judge’s ruling, and after he was sworn into office, Councilman Spicer immediately got to work.

Not only does he plan to “provide basic services to the community” including tree trimming, cleaning and paving streets and graffiti removal but he is also fully committed to changing the public’s perception of what the City of Compton is. A man who has the well-being and safety of his constituents at the forefront of his mind 24/7, Spicer speaks of “bringing more economic development” to his city.

He is a man who gets things done. When speaking to him, his wisdom is evident in his calm tone. He carefully chooses his words and because of it, he communicates his vision clearly and he is able to find common ground even with the gangs in Compton. He hosted a successful “Movies in the Park” event at a park that is known for its gang activity and transients. Spicer was able to broker a ceasefire and communicate to the transients to cut back on the “hanging out”. Which they did and the event was a success.

Spicer has developed a strong bond with his community through the years. He is a well-rounded activist with great passion for health and wellness. In early July, he teamed up with the Compton Run Club to host the District 2 Run/Walk event where running enthusiasts jogged through the district to “identify sore spots” and to talk about solutions.

Spicer is a change-maker who is putting Compton on the news and on the map not for the crime, not for the gangs, not for the sex-trafficking, not for the pollution, but for its diverse community ready for change.

I got to witness Spicer‘s commitment and passion during his recent district tour in Compton, during which he checked on improvements, graffiti that he deems a “public safety issue” and the accomplished goals. I got to interview him during our ride where we spoke about his upbringing, his life, his mission and his love for his community. Spicer is committed to lift up his city and he is well on his way on his journey of service.


(Through the interview I strived to preserve Councilman Spicer’s authentic voice and the setting we were in, whether that was us riding through Compton or the visit to Lueders Park and the surrounding areas. As such, you will encounter intermittent narration in Italics)


Spicer and Spears on their district tour

Do you remember the exact time you decided to run for city council?


Hmmm. The exact moment? I remember the time in which it happened. I know it was somewhere in October of 2020. I had been urged to run for probably about two years, before I accepted that I am going to run. I can’t remember exactly what it was. I am pretty sure it had something to do with that current councilman making the news for something else. I don’t know if it was the Marijuana dispensaries, when his house got raided in November. I think that’s what it was. That might have been what it was. When his house got raided in November for the marijuana involvement.

Prior to that you were doing community work. What were the things that you were involved in to serve the community?

Immediately before that I was a liaison to councilperson Michelle Chambers. I have worked hard to get her in office a couple of years prior to that and that was a reflection of my community activism. That was a result of me engaging the youth to get involved in politics. I have done several voter registration events, where we educated the community on local politics, on who is running, what’s going on, just giving the community information on the candidates, and we went as far as interviewing the candidates who were running. And just kind of identifying the issues that we have from the community‘s side and how all that could be addressed in City Hall. So, we started all that around 2017. We went really heavy with that. And as a result, we increased the voter turnout by 40%.

You answered my next question on how one gets into politics. Basically, you got active in the voting process and being a liaison for someone whose platform you believed in.

I was actually doing activism before getting hired. The reason why I got hired was because of my activism. So, for the last 10 years my activism has ranged from expunging clinics, backpack giveaways, food giveaways, mentorship programs, summer programs. We have done all that up until we really got involved in local politics and once I found out the numbers in Compton, it really changed the direction of my radio station and my community activism.

So, you used your platform, the radio station, to raise funds to do the backpack giveaways to give back to the community. And then you got the attention of the people in city governance and they reached out to you.

Everyone was reaching out to us for interviews and to be on our platforms and they wanted to reach a younger audience. I don’t know if you know but there are 100,000 people in Compton but there’s only 45,000 registered voters. The average age in Compton is 25, but the average voter’s age is 65. So, there’s that huge gap and that gap is my demographic.


Tell me about your upbringing.

I was born and raised in Compton, to two Compton high alumni, my mom and my dad. My father was a Compton Police officer and my mom worked for the Child Support Services. So, I spent most of my childhood split between both sides, the East Side and the West Side of Compton. I spent a lot of time in the City Park and a lot of time in the Richland/ Richmond Park area. My parents split when I was 3. Me and my dad didn’t have the best relationship growing up. I didn’t really start to develop a relationship with my dad until I was like 19 , so my mom raised me, my mom and my grandmother.

May I ask why the rift happened between you and your dad?

My dad just wasn’t “there” . He was absent. And whatever issues they had between them kind of spilled into his relationship with myself.


What kind of student were you?


What type of student was I ? Oh Wow! Ok, so I was a “do what I needed to do to pass”, I only did just enough work to get by in school. I wasn’t the best student coming up.

Where did you go to school?


I went to school at Our Lady Victory in the City of Compton and I was also and for high school I went to Verbum Dei, which is in Watts, a private all boy school, right outside of Nixon Gardens.

What did you want to be growing up? Did you have a dream? What was it?

You know, I just wanted to play football. I was a football player my entire life but that dream started to slip away. I would not gain no weight . I think I was the skinniest kid. I was always the skinniest kid. I was always the smallest kid. But once you get into high school you know things don’t go by your weight anymore, it goes by your grade and my grades weren’t much bigger than me. So, the dream slowly started to fade in the back. I didn’t know what I actually wanted to do. And once I graduated high school… I was always the artist. I always drew, I always painted and different things like that but then I really started to… Look, they just got our street done!


A sizable smile appears on Councilman Spicer’s face as he points at 3 municipal trucks fixing the road that stretches in front of us.


Man, these people are going to be excited to see this street done, because that street was pretty messed up. So, you might see a lot of traffic going on around here. – But going back to school, I went to college for fashion design. I took a year out of school. I decided I wanted to design clothes and I went to AIU in LA. I did fashion design for a couple of years. I wanted to go to FIDM but I couldn’t afford the tuition there. So, I started a clothing line about two years after I went to school. I designed evening gowns, suits, I did a lot of weddings, proms, different things like that.

What’s your message to the youth in school right now?

The message to the youth in school is to find out who you are, be comfortable being you and hold your own ground, hold your own direction. A lot of people are influenced by others or what they think is cool or different things like that. I have always done my own thing. I grew up in a gang infested neighborhood. There was violence and gangs all around me, drugs and different things like that, and I went to school for fashion design. It wasn’t the popular thing to do. In the classroom, it was me and about 28 women and two other guys that were definitely different than I was, that I could relate to, so I always stood alone and I am comfortable with that. I loved that. I love my route in life because of that.

Who was the most influential role model while growing up?


My mom has always been one of my best friends. We always had a really dope relationship. I get a lot of my courage and strength from her. Growing up I didn’t have many male influences in my life so I kind of hung onto my coaches, Coach Spears, Coach Cole, Coach Lalo, different coaches that really poured into my life. I don’t even know if they know the degree that they poured into my life, if they know what they mean to me. Then my uncle, he wasn’t even my direct uncle, it was my cousin’s dad, you know, different people like that. They played different roles in my life. There was no one consistent person throughout the whole time. There were a lot of key people that came in at very pertinent times in my life and I really truly appreciate that. Then there is Troy Campbell and Pastor Antwon. I didn't realize how much of an influence they had on my life until I started to develop more as a man.

Spicer surveying trash left on the street

What do you think is the biggest challenge that the community in Compton is facing now?

The biggest challenge is to change the culture of Compton. The culture has allowed us to be stagnant in where we are. We accept the way things are. We have gotten used to the helicopters flying over our heads, we have gotten used to trash on the corner, we have gotten used to seeing abandoned buildings, we have gotten used to not taking responsibility for what we can do to make changes in the community. I think that these are the things that we are going to have to start to do, to pay more attention to what we can do in the community. And I want to actually have the conversation soon with the community as to everybody being accountable and responsible, you know. I shouldn’t be throwing trash out of my window, in my community, I just shouldn’t, but we do it all the time. And it’s an unconscious thing because "this is just what it is", you know. And it’s crazy because we go to other neighborhoods and we don’t throw it out the window. We respect theirs, but when it comes to ours “ here it goes trash, no more trash”. And those are things we are going to have to start exercising. To say "hey it is our job to make sure that the city is clean" and it is also your job to make sure that you don’t keep it dirty.

What do you think is the greatest strength that the community of Compton has?

The greatest strength in the city of Compton is resilience. We are very resilient. We have been able to deal with any and everything and that’s a gift and a curse. Because once you are resilient…First off resilience is a wonderful thing, you want to be resilient but then we can be complacent in that resilience and say hey we can deal with anything and not look to make things better so it’s a gift and a curse. I love our resilience.

As we drive by a faded mustard color building on Santa Fe Avenue, Councilman Spicer’s eyes light up.

This is the apartment complex that we found all the voter fraud that we uncovered. It was like 10 people registered to one apartment in here, one of the people I was running up against, Isaac Galvan, he had a lot of people registered in one apartment. This is where we got most of the proof. Right here in this apartment complex. I will always remember this apartment complex for that.

Councilman, what do you think made them think that they could get away with such a level of fraud?

This is something that has been going on for years . It goes back to what I said before. It’s the culture. The culture of Compton has been to do things a certain way and we just ignore it, we just let it go and that’s just not what I signed up for. I am here to make a change to make a difference and it starts with being the change that you want to see.

Spicer, Fluvia, a Compton resident with her children and Spears

What are the things that you are the proudest of that you accomplished the past 30 days that you have been in office?

Mostly the connection with the community and establishing the fact that I am here for them. I have done some things that obviously I can be proud of. We have given away about $4000 worth of gas to the community. We fed over 700 families. We had a Movie in the Park event at a park that families had been fearful to go to, you know. We cleaned that up and we were able to do an event there for families. And this is all within 30 days of me being in office and those are things to be proud about but mostly the fact that I am developing an even stronger bond with the community, they are responding to the changes and they feel heard, you know, so just establishing that connection is key. I was even able to establish a connection with people who did not like me. Not everybody likes me. I’d like to think that I am one of the coolest people out here, but I had a couple of residents who didn’t really care for me. They called me recently about issues that they had been dealing with in their community and I responded right away like I would with anybody and one of the women was like “Hey, I am gonna have to take back everything I said about you,” and for me it meant a lot because I would rather win you over. I don’t want to fight with you. I don't want to argue, that’s not the energy I want and in most cases these are senior people. So, I am not going to sit here and argue and go back and forth with you, it's just not good energy. What are we going to do, fight? So, I just try and keep everything cordial and cool and I am just going to do my job and hopefully people will recognize that and will appreciate it and they can show their appreciation for it.

Spicer pulls over his SUV. We get out and walk to a quiet and clean park. It is Lueders Park, the park that he was referring to minutes earlier.


What should we know about this park?


This is one of the four parks in my district. This park hasn’t not always been the most maintained. When I was campaigning, I talked to a lot of people in the neighborhood and a lot of families have been reluctant, very reluctant to come up here . And I asked “why are you so reluctant to come up here?”. And they said it’s because "the gangs were hanging out," there were transients who would hang out and be here. You know, I just wanted to change the look of the park. I wanted to target this park to do my Movies in the Park, to make sure that we cleaned it up and that it was available to the community . I talked to the workers and they got right to it, they were happy to get to work on it . And I actually talked to the transients and I let them know about my concerns and they let me know that they will cut back on the hanging out , especially for that particular day, same thing with the gangs, I was talking to them. You know this is my people, I talk to them, I am engaging with them . So that’s where we are at with it.

We walk through the park, amidst blaring sirens in the background, as a random car drives down the sidewalk, along the fresh playpen.

Another one of the issue we had at this park, was that the kids couldn’t use the playground, the playpen area, because it had human feces in it, it had syringes and different things like that – sirens blaring non-stop-, so we had to clean this stuff out , clean it up, sanitize it and bring the new mulch, so we can have a whole new look, and they got right to it. Now I am coming here for the first time since that day and it just looks a lot cleaner , you don’t have the hanging out that much , you don’t have – with all respect to the transient community – but they are not here as often anymore and hanging out in the playpens where the kids are supposed to be. So that was just us again communicating with the community. You have to talk to your people, you know. You can’t be threatened by the people in your community. I grew up here, I know these people, so, me having these conversations was nothing, it was just a conversation. Where most politicians wouldn’t have done it, they would have sent a “professional” out to do it which in some cases doesn’t work, because these people feel like this is their home, so when this is their home, their territory you have to come with a certain type of approach, you have to be able to speak the language of the people and I feel like I speak that language pretty good.

As we walk through the park to check the improvement Public Works made on the playground, we are suddenly approached by three young men. “What are you doing here with the camera?“ one of them asks, pointing in my direction. “Let me handle this” replies Spicer in a calm tone, looking in my direction. “Oh, you the Mayor,“ the young man exclaims . “No, I’m a councilman,“ Spicer responds and we all laugh. What ensues after is a respectful conversation between councilman and those whose territory we are “infringing” upon. We part with a handshake and continue to the parking lot.

Spears and Spicer assessing the work that needs to be done

What was your favorite moment since you’ve been in office?

My favorite moment was feeding those 700 families and providing them with the level of groceries that we provided them with and just to see their smiles, just to see them be so grateful it meant a lot. I know the level of people we have here and sometimes people just need that extra help to get past, and getting them $50 worth of gas for their car or a couple of hundred dollars worth of groceries can take them a long way, can help them get to the next month. And you see it, you see the relief on their faces and their kids are smiling, they are happy. We even gave away car seats and high chairs and diapers and different things. No one is doing that, with all due respect, no one is doing that and I know that the people here are just – not to say that people here are broke or can’t afford anything, but just that extra helps them get to the next month and I am most proud to do that for my people.

We continue cruising down Long Beach Blvd. Councilman Spicer spots gang graffiti on a gray wall and immediately picks up his phone.

So, you just saw a wall that had graffiti on it.

Yeah, I saw a wall that needed to have its graffiti removed …


Spicer speaks into his phone.


"Doc, Doc, Doc! Hey man, I got some graffiti on the wall over here in my area. It’s actually right across the street from the water store. It’s on the corner of Long Beach Blvd…I don’t even know this street over here. It’s the gray wall that has Elm Street on it.


Doc assures Spicer that he would be “over there in a minute”, then hangs up the phone.


The thing about getting graffiti off. Not everybody understands how important something like that is. Aside from the fact that it doesn’t look good and it’s ugly to the community, it’s a message. And most times, it’s a message of hate and that only drives more hate. And then you get this back-and-forth thing that goes on and in some cases beef and things are escalating just because of what’s on the wall in a certain territory. So, it’s a level of public safety honestly, removing the graffiti. I’m more inclined to remove the stuff that I see is disrespect. I gotta get on that immediately, people marking their territory. I am going to report it and eventually it gets taken down, but I am a little more fast to respond to the messages of hate.


Spicer and Spears on their district tour

We pull into the ally, behind the grey building just to come upon the back side of it fully covered with similar scribblings.


Ok, so what we have here is a lot of graffiti on the wall. What I told you before is just like sometimes it’s more about just clearing the hate off the wall and sometimes these messages are messages of hate. You know, somebody “K” or anybody “K” or crossing out different territories. What that does, it just sends out messages of hate and violence to whoever you are disrespecting and then they have to get back and do the back-and-forth for a while and then it actually gets physical and then things escalate, but it all starts right here. I mean not all of it, but a lot of it kind of starts with stuff like this. So, that’s why it’s important to get stuff like this off the wall as fast as you can.

What are the signatures?


I’ll read this stuff, I was born and raised around these types of things, I read this. This is a language I actually read so it’s not just letters on the wall for me. And it’s not for the community. So, we got like “18 killa” or 18 K and I’m not saying these things to be disrespectful to these gangs. I’m just pointing these things out just to show that this is the reason why we have to get the stuff whacked off, cleaned off. You got SBC crossed out and the HKs and again. Messages of hate.


What is STV 13?


STVV is a Latino gang, I'm not exactly sure where they are at but I just know what that means. SBC, Santana Blocc Crips, they are also in my district. They are not too far. Actually, they are right across the street here. And then you got Compton Varrio 70s. That’s another gang here in Compton. Another Latino gang here in Compton. So, you will see a lot of these tags on the wall and we just gotta clean them up. It’s our job to get it cleaned up. That’s all.

Let us travel five years into the future, we are in Compton. What do you see, what would you like to see in Compton?

All these vacant buildings, abandoned buildings, vacant lots to be completely cleared out and gone. Developed eventually, I would like to see Compton Boulevard more of a tourist attraction in a sense of having our mom and pops spots, our official Compton stores or some restaurants, you know places to eat and just sitting out and being a part of the community. I like the way Bellflower Boulevard looks in a certain area, I like certain parts of Long Beach where it’s so community based. Where you got people owning businesses, where people living in the community are owning businesses in that community. I want to see more of that. Clean streets, just clean, just being clean - I want to start there. Trimming the trees, paying attention to the maintenance of the city. We have to have top-of-the-line maintenance in five years. I don’t want to see people dumping their trash in our communities no more. I don’t want to see us dumping our trash in our communities. We have to see a shift and consciousness and that be health-wise as well as in our environment, in our community.


What do you contribute your enterprising skills to? You own several businesses and you have a profound drive.

I just wanted to see a change. Literally, I just wanted to see something different. My businesses are not based on what brings in the most, it’s not solely based on capital. The businesses I have, the radio station, the reason why I started that, was because Compton didn’t have a platform. When people google Compton or look up Compton, the answer is based on what the media had already put out there so it was gangs, it was old English letters, it was yellow tape, drugs, murders, you know. That’s what you see when you google Compton, especially when I was coming up. And I wanted to be a part of changing that, to change that perception. Because when I would travel, people would ask me where I was from and when I would tell them they would say I "don’t look like, walk like, talk like, dress like" I am from Compton. And those are the people who actually don’t have any idea of what Compton is, where it is. What am I supposed to look like? What am I supposed to dress like? And it’s all based on what they see in the news, on the media and that perception. So, I went a little further to say hey maybe we can change that. The internet just really started booming and I just figured that this was, this could be a platform, maybe we can have our own platform. This could be our opportunity to have our own platform and tell our own stories and let the world see what Compton is. So that’s why I started the Hub Radio.

So, basically through Hub Radio you were changing the public’s perception of Compton being a gang riddled community to a very diverse and amazing community with heart .

It is important that we change the perception because when people meet you there they expect you to fit those stereotypes and that perception and - in some cases with ourselves - we expect ourselves to fit those same stereotypes, that’s what we put out there and that’s a dangerous combination. I just wanted to change that.


It’s beautiful because we connected on that level when I met you, I thought, wow, there is a fresh, forward-thinking voice here. There is a diverse community in Compton and I too want to highlight that. I want to work on bringing those voices forward and I am so glad you allowed me into your world, Councilman. I am happy to be of service.

What does success mean and look like to you?


Success for me looks like change. It’s as simple as I can put that. Change from what the stereotype is, what the expectations are. Change all around, changing the streets, changing the gangs, changes in economic development, change with the prostitution, the human trafficking in the city. So, once I start to see those changes then I will feel successful. I can have all the riches in the world but if my people and my community is still suffering – to me that’s not success. Growing up, every day when I went to school I saw abandoned buildings, I saw gang activity, I saw drugs, I saw prostitution. Every day that’s what you see, this is what’s around you. So, this is your influence to a certain degree. And when I got older, I started to realize – because for a while you are just numb to it and say this just how things are - then you get to the point when you are older and you know better and you want better. So, from there then you start to have children. And when I am taking my kid to school and we are driving down Long Beach Boulevard and I have my daughter with me and there are four naked women standing on the street looking to be picked up by any John, it hits me different. It didn’t hit me the same when I was by myself, when I was 17. You know you have your own opinion about it but when you have a little girl who is seeing these same images, you have to wonder what kind of effect it will have on her mentality. I know how I felt when I saw all the drug dealers with all the money, I know what that did to me. But I don’t know what effect the image of these four naked women will have on my daughter. I don’t know what she sees and feels. You know. I can talk to her about it but it’s something you just can’t explain all the time. It took me to be a grown person to understand or to explain how I felt and what I saw in my youth. So, when you start to see things like that you realize how much change is needed . We can’t go another 30 years like this. I am successful when all the gangs decide we are not going to add nobody else to our hood, we are not going to put nobody else on our gang. That’s success to me. Those are images of success, when you have shelters and wrap-around services that are literally getting people out of the streets and we are not increasing our homeless population, we are decreasing the homeless population, that’s success to me.

Juan, owner of Los Sombreros and Spicer

Speaking of the homeless, what are your plans for the unhoused folk on the street?

I have a couple of different programs that I want to introduce to the city. The reason why we have homeless people living on the streets is because we don’t have shelters. If you have shelters you could make it illegal to live on the street. Which means you can give those people a bed and if they choose not to take the bed then they would have to go into the system. Compton doesn’t have any shelters, thus you can’t stop people from living on the streets. Everybody wants a shelter but nobody wants it next door. Nobody wants it in their backyard. So, what you can do is, what I thought about, how about if you make it an investment opportunity. For the residents that would be the most effective for us putting a shelter in their neighborhood or their backyard. I have a plan for that, a pretty extensive plan. I think it can be carried out. It is an opportunity for the residents to make a financial investment, we can bring in shelter or housing for our homeless population, we clean up the community by housing the community. We provide wrap-around services so those people once they cycled out they don’t go back into the street. You have different types of homelessness. You have the mental illness, you have the drug users, you have the ones that were just released from jail, you have the foster youth. You have all these roots of homelessness that you can address.


You have great passion and infinity towards health and wellness . Where did that come from?


I hadn’t always been the most health-conscious person but about 12 years ago I lost my best friend to colon cancer and he was 28 years old. It was one of the biggest losses of my life. And it was all about his diet, I feel like it was about his diet. How he kept up. He wasn’t an obese guy at all. He wasn’t much bigger than me but what he was eating wasn’t always healthy. We all have different chemical balances and make-ups and maybe it affected him more than others but to see someone that young get cancer and die so fast made me want to just be more conscious of what I put into my body. It made me question everything in terms of our food, our water. I’m trying to understand how this happened to this young healthy person. And whether it was the water or the food, the produce, the pesticides that they are putting on the produce, the miracle grow that we are using to grow the produce, all these different things you know. I just want to be more conscious of it. And it’s not that I want to be a super clean person where I’m questioning everything, or I’m a vegan so I can’t have certain things. I just want a balance. I’m not the best. I’m still going to eat beef, I’m still going to have my chicken and things like that but I also want to keep things balanced. I want to make sure I’m getting my water, I want to make sure I’m getting my sea moss, I want to make sure I’m flushing my system out. I’m still going to drink alcohol, I’m still going to do all these different things, but it’s all about being balanced and I think that’s what we miss: balance.

Let's talk about Public Safety Plans. Give me a couple that are on your agenda.


A ceasefire. Public safety for me has almost nothing to do with law enforcement and at least for my platform - it has nothing to do with law enforcement. I feel like if we provide our community with the resources that they need, our crime rate would definitely drop. People commit crimes because of circumstances. People don’t commit crimes because they are bored. I mean sometimes that could be the case. But generally speaking, it’s because of the lack of something. When you can provide your community with resources, job training for our second chance community, you can talk about a ceasefire. They don’t have to be friends, but I ask that you guys can stop shooting at each other. Everybody wants to live. Everybody deserves to live. Kids are out here, women are out here, families are out. So, number one is ceasefire. Two, I am focusing on services for second chance residents. Those again will provide the resources they can use to help themselves out. What we find is that the people who go to jail then get out and go back to society they typically go back to jail because they don’t have the resources they don’t have the help and we are not necessarily providing them will all the resources and if the resources are there we are not advertising them, they are not know to that community, to that population. That’s on us to get that information out there to make sure that information is accessible.

If you had an unlimited budget, what is the first thing you would work on?

Shelters.


What’s a day in your life look like? Let’s say tomorrow, Tuesday.

Tuesdays are the wildest days of the week, because we have council meetings. Typically, I am getting up in the morning, I am meditating, then I am opening up my water store. I’ll sit there for about an hour or so, until I get some relief. Then I head up to City Hall and then from there I have a whole bunch of work that I have to get done. I will sit in City Hall until 8 o’clock at night. Sometimes 9 o’clock at night. I am easily doing 50 hour a week at City Hall and it’s because we have so many things to do, so many responsibilities, so many issues that we have to address and it’s never done in one day. So, I am constantly working on those things, every day. My days are full. I get home around 9:00 - 9:30 P.M.


What’s on your playlist?


I listen to a lot of Kendrick Lamar, LaRussel, he’s been on my rotation for the last six months, I am loving his music right now. And Blxst and Westside Boogie. Those are my main artists right now.


What are your favorite spots to eat at in Compton?


My favorite spot to eat at is probably...I probably eat at Los Sombreros more than I eat anywhere else. Los Sombreros is probably my favorite spot in the city. It’s a few of them that I enjoy, don't get me wrong, but I probably spend the most time at Los Sombreros .


There’s such an incredible wisdom that you have and an ease about you, where is that coming from? How did you tap into that? Were you always like this? Where is that coming from ?

I think it comes from life experience. I am a student of history and science in my adult life. I hated it when I was in school. But as an adult I really took to history and science. Nothing’s new in the world. Nothing’s new under the sun. Everything that we are experiencing has happened before. We just don’t pay attention to it. I like to pay attention to what’s going on. I just tap into the “knowing “. Knowing what our past has held, the things we had to deal with in our past and how we changed that. It’s really about knowing what the past was, knowing how science works, logic and after that is just common sense for me. I also listen to a lot of audiobooks.


Why should people invest in Compton? What types of investment would you like to welcome?

People should invest in Compton because it is an ever- changing community. We are growing and although we are classified as a ghetto, it costs over half a million dollars to buy a house here. By definition we are a suburb and it’s an opportunity for people to get in while the city is on sale. Right now, things are on sale because of the lack of development , because of the crime rate and all these different things, but in the next couple of years all those things are going to be changing . I am certain of it because I am dedicating my life to it. And the businesses that are welcome are restaurants, mom and pop shops, cigar lounges, bars, so many different things, skating rinks, bowling alleys. I am looking to have a little bit of recreation here. I want to make this a tourist location.


What would you like to ask of your constituents ?

Compassion. Accountability and honesty. I know a lot of this “cleaning up Compton” falls on elected officials, on City Hall. But the truth of the matter is, we can all do our part. And if that’s as simple as you taking your trash to a trashcan and not dumping it into the parking lot where you just happened to be parked at. There are so many things we can do as residents, that will increase our quality of life. We just don’t take the accountability to say “hey, I am going to do this because this is what needs to be done”. When you see people disrespecting our property like the park, you know the menace is out here. Instead of just acknowledging it, I think that we should speak on it and speak against it. Shame people for tearing down their neighborhoods. We have to be a little bit more accountable and don’t expect me to do everything.


Councilman, what do you want the world to know about your city?

That Compton is a diverse city. We are very diverse. We are not one particular way. We are not the gang, we are not the crime, we are not all sports, we are not all rappers. It’s a very very diverse community. And that’s the message I've been wanting to get out here to everybody for a long time that there’s so much to Compton. The pride runs deep. The history runs deep. It's a little bit more than just NWA.