Ten candidates will run for three seats on the Clovis City Council. It may be the largest ballot for the city in recent memory.
The large field may be due to the fact that there will be two open positions on the council. Jose Flores is not running for another term — he’s been on city council since 1999 — and Bob Whalen will step down after being elected in June to a judgeship on the Fresno County Superior Court bench. That leaves Drew Bessinger as the only incumbent on the November ballot.
Still, there are other familiar names from civic and political circles in the running — former police chief Matt Basgall and Fresno Republican Women Federated President Diane Pearce. Basgall reentered public life earlier this year, advocating for more money for public safety. Pearce ran for a Clovis council seat, but did not win, in 2021.
Also in Politics 101 …
- The list of Clovis City Council candidates.
- Downtown Fresno development debate gets personal.
- Paying for parking at Tower Theatre?
- Abortion funding passes in Fresno.
- Who is running in Pinedale? A seat remains vacant.
Who is Running in Clovis
Clovis City Council members are elected at large. Voters will choose three names on the same ballot on Nov. 8, with the top vote-getters winning seats.
The official list of candidates:
- Drew Bessinger, 65, Clovis City Councilman/police chief at Fresno Yosemite International airport. Republican.
- Matt Basgall, 54, former Clovis police chief/director of security at California Health Sciences University. Republican.
- Diane Pearce, 43, local Republican leader/business owner. Republican.
- Mark Kazanjian, 58, owner of “Neighbors” restaurant. Republican.
- Josh Phanco, 45, insurance agency owner. No party preference.
- Martin Salas, 28, Fresno police officer. Republican.
- Kyle Chaney, 47, Realtor. Republican.
- Guy Redner, 36, caretaker. Republican.
- Joe Hebert, 64, City of Madera parks director. Democrat.
- Des Haus, 33, energy company executive. No party preference.
Development Debate Turns to Shade on City Official
In these scorching days of a Fresno summer, leave it to councilmen Miguel Arias and Garry Bredefeld to throw shade.
During a council debate about extending an agreement with a downtown developer, one councilman attacked one of his favorite targets. Another extended the “shade” to a city official.
Noyan Frazier Capital, L.P. is planning to build mixed-use housing at Fulton and Inyo streets known as the South Stadium project. The plans have been a long time coming, requiring the city council to extend deadlines and other contracts.
Bredefeld praised Mehmet Noyan, but criticized his business partner Terance Frazier over issues with Granite Park — the city-owned sports facility operated by Frazier’s nonprofit. The councilman leveled accusations over unpaid bills by the nonprofit and Frazier’s pending federal lawsuit about an audit of the park’s finances.
“According to Mike Lima, the (city) finance director, as of today, (financial problems have) never been rectified. That’s never been corrected. That’s never been adequately addressed to the administration or to city staff. You all were here, Mr. Arias, since you brought this up. You want to overlook that. I’m not willing to overlook that,” Bredefeld said.
Arias had criticism for Lima.
“Mike Lima is the same controller in our city that, you know, somehow lost $600,000 that have yet to be addressed to this council. We still don’t know where the money went. We were promised an arrest months ago. It doesn’t mean that we (start) shutting down city business,” Arias said.
Arias referred to scammers stealing money from the city in 2020 through a fake construction invoice. No arrests have been reported in that case.
Bredefeld defended Lima, with Arias saying he was not attacking the city administrator.
Following the debate, the council approved extending the South Stadium development agreement by a 4-1 vote. A related technical portion of the contract was not approved because it needed five votes and only got four. Arias said that item will be brought back at the next City Council meeting.
Parking for Tower Theatre? You’ll Need to Pay
The council approved a rental rate plan for non-commercial and nonprofit users of the now city-owned Tower Theatre by a 5-1 vote. Charges for parking in the lot behind the theater will be coming in the future.
City Manager Georgeanne White told the council that they are still working on restriping and perhaps adding more spaces. But the public will have to pay. Prior to the city’s purchase of the theater (and adjacent lot), there was no charge for parking.
“We are interested in charging for parking, but that is going to be a huge adjustment for that area. So we would need to do a lot of public education before we go down that path and we haven’t started. We’re sort of working on the maintenance aspect of it right now,” White said.
Council Passes Abortion Funding
Following a three-hour debate, the Fresno City Council approved passing through $1 million in state funding to Planned Parenthood.
Speakers spoke in favor and against. Councilman Garry Bredefeld showed a graphic video of what an abortion process looks like. He gave a warning it might upset people.
The money was secured by Assemblyman Joaquin Arambula, D-Fresno, in the state budget.
Councilman Mike Karbassi missed the meeting because he was feeling under the weather.
No One Running for Pinedale Board
While Clovis City Council seats have drawn plenty of interest, a smaller government agency nearby has more positions than candidates.
The Pinedale County Water District serves about 3,000 customers in an unincorporated area surrounded by the city of Fresno near the Herndon/Blackstone area.
Three of the five board positions are up for election for a regular term. Two members are running for re-election — Brad Peranick and David Rodriguez.
The third seat has been vacant since 2020. The board attempted to appoint Amanda Castro in 2021. The first try failed over a residency issues. When that was solved, the board deadlocked and the seat remained vacant.
The Fresno County Board of Supervisors could have made an appointment following the failure by the Pinedale board. It never took up the issue. The voters could have made the choice, as the vacant term is up for election in November. But no one ran.
Now, it is likely up to the Pinedale board again to make an appointment once the election date passes.
Another seat on the board was vacated earlier this year when Tyler Mackey resigned when he moved out of the district. The board appointed Alex Valdez to the position. Valdez is on the ballot to run for the remainder of the term, and did not draw an opponent.