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Face-Off for Clovis City Council: Growth Is Hot Topic

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The four candidates for three spots on the Clovis City Council have two things in common: They all work in law enforcement or the criminal justice system, and they are all Republican.

But, that’s where the similarities end. Three of the four are experienced incumbents in a city where turnover on the council is rare.

Stability a Clovis Hallmark

Maeketah Rivera hopes to do something that hasn’t happened in Clovis politics in 25 years — unseat an incumbent.

A sitting council member hasn’t lost a Clovis election since 1994, when Kent Hamlin — part of a slow-growth slate — defeated Dave Lawson. Hamlin is now a Fresno Superior Court judge. Lawson was implicated in the Operation Rezone scandal of the mid-1990s.

This year also marks the first election since 2009 that has a candidate challenging the incumbents. In 2017, voters went to the polls to fill two open seats. No election took place 2011-2015 because only the incumbents filed to run.

Rivera is taking on Jose Flores, Bob Whalen, and Drew Bessinger. They have served since 1999, 2003, and 2017, respectively.

 

The Candidates

Rivera, 28, is a community service officer with the Fresno Police Department.

Flores, 60, is the chief of the State Center Community College District police department.

Whalen, 53, is the chief deputy district attorney with Fresno County, supervising the violent crimes unit. He currently serves as Clovis’ mayor.

Bessinger, 62, retired as a Clovis police captain in 2009. He has since served as interim police chief for four Valley cities, most recently in Atwater.

This is also the last time this set of council members will be chosen in an odd-year election. Voters return to the polls in November 2022, giving this set slightly less than four-year terms. The last overall odd-year election will be 2021, when the seats currently occupied by Lynne Ashbeck and Vong Mouanoutoua are up.

Face-Off

GV Wire spoke with all four candidates to get their views on the March 5 election.

Click on the video above to hear the candidates talk about:

— What makes each the best candidate.

— What the “Clovis Way of Life” signifies.

— How Clovis should adjust its housing plan to accommodate an expanding population.

— Jobs and industries they want to see in Clovis.

— Should Clovis shift from at-large elections to district elections for the city council?

Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email