Vong Mouanoutoua (Photo contributed)
By Tomas Kassahun | Reporter
The Clovis City Council held its election on March 7, filling two council member seats for a full term of four years and one council member seat for a short term of two years.
Council Member Lynne Ashbeck was re-elected to a full four-year term, while former Clovis Planning Commission chairman Vong Mouanoutoua was elected to a full four-year term, and retired Clovis police Capt. Drew Bessinger was elected to a two-year term.
While Ashbeck and Mouanoutoua ran unopposed, Bessinger received 67.88 percent of the votes to beat out healthcare executive Paul Soares. Bessinger takes the place of Harry Armstrong, who retired in October.
For Bessinger, one of the priorities is to rebuild the police department.
“The police department was beat up pretty good during the recession. We went from 116 officers to 91,” Bessinger said. “We’re back to about 107. For a town of our size, we should be in the 120s. To do that, it takes money. The way you get that money is you bring businesses in that are going to create good paying jobs and stabilize the tax base.”
Another one of Bessinger’s priorities is to revitalize old neighbors that have been left behind.
Bessinger said a lot of the neighborhoods, especially during the foreclosure last decade, saw houses that weren’t maintained.
“I’d like to work with people to maintain their homes. Maybe get an extra cleanup day or something like that,” Bessinger said. “I’d like to hire a code enforcement officer who deals with the non-compliance issues. If there is somebody that is not complying, instead of going to the city attorney, which costs money, it goes to a code enforcement officer who will bring the enforcement on people who aren’t complying.”
Mouanoutoua ran for the state assembly in 2012, but did not win.
“I’ve been on the other side where I wasn’t successful, but I think each time it builds on the next time. It’s very rewarding,” Mouanoutoua said. “Last time it was new. Everything was new. Debating was new, speaking in front of a group was very new. This time I understood the process a little bit better.”
Mouanoutoua said his goal for now is to “to learn the job, to understand what it means to be a council person, what the roles are, to stay within those boundaries.”
He adds that some of his other priorities are to maintain public safety, to grow in a responsible and smart way and to work with Clovis Unified to keep education a high priority.
“How do we continue that as we grow?,” Mouanoutoua said. “Those are the things I see coming up.”