Maywood — By the time the votes in all 17 of Maywood’s precincts were tallied, the powerhouse candidate in a field of 11 wasn’t a former mayor or a sitting trustee — it was the seemingly ubiquitous 27-year-old political upstart Isiah Brandon.
Brandon, a consultant by profession, is perhaps best known for founding Youth on the Move, a nonprofit he created to provide alternative programming for local young people.
He’s also rather popular for just being on the political scene in town — whether volunteering on other people’s campaigns or sitting in on board meetings, which he’s been attending since he was in grade school.
As a kid, he would study the profiles of local political personalities like other children would basketball cards. Now he’s one of those personalities in his own right after winning 14.75 percent of the vote, or 994 people, in an off-year election that attracted around 16 percent of registered voters in the village.
Former mayor Henderson Yarbrough and incumbent trustee Ronald Rivers — the other two candidates who each picked up one of the three open seats on the board — garnered 13.31 percent and 12.9 percent, respectively.
“I’m going to need a lot of help because there’s a lot of stuff I recognize I don’t know,” Brandon said the morning after the election. He was at Kathy’s Kitchen, 11 N. 5th Avenue, thanking voters. He added that his approach would be one of compromise instead of conflict.
“You have to work with people across the board and make sure we keep Maywood in mind at all times,” he said.
Asked how he won two years after failing to make it on the ballot in his race for trustee in 2013, he said he walked Maywood ringing doorbells and attended community events. He’d been campaigning for several months before he formally announced to his supporters that he’d run.
With Brandon’s victory, Mayor Edwenna Perkins earns an ally — Brandon would essentially replace Trustee Cheryl Ealey-Cross, who Perkins appointed in 2013 to fill the trustee seat Perkins vacated when she became mayor — but she’ll face the same bloc of trustees that she’s been at loggerheads with since her swearing-in. Only this time, that bloc will be more emboldened with the presence of former mayor Henderson Yarbrough.
How this dynamic plays out is anyone’s guess. But for Joe Ratley (pictured right), a former trustee who sits on the village’s Planning and Zoning Commission, Brandon’s mere presence would be enough to change things.
“I’m glad this young man won, because he gives the youth an opportunity to see that they can get involved and they do need to get involved,” said Ratley.
For Brandon, his hope is that he can perhaps change the working relationship among members on the board from one of animosity to mutual collaboration on big things.
“I hope to increase the level of conversation on the board,” he said. “There are a lot of major things that should be happening in the Village of Maywood.” VFP
This post has been updated to correct for Brandon’s occupation.