Growing up in a small, coastal town in New Jersey, Drew Bessinger was used to the middle class lifestyle, but that life as he knew it would change drastically. At the age of 13, Bessinger got the news that his father had been killed in the line of duty serving his country.
“He was a POW during World War II,” Bessinger said. “We went from the relative middle class to food stamps and social security, it was a whole new life.”
Bessinger struggled in that lifestyle. Life was hard for his family so in hopes of leaving that life behind, but also following in his father’s footsteps, he joined the military at the age of 18. He got stationed in New Jersey for a short time before he was transferred to Germany where he served as a military police officer.
During his time in Germany, Bessinger met a girl who was also serving in the military that happened to be from Fresno. That is how he made his way all the way to California and has been here ever since.
Staying in the public safety sector, he began working as a police officer in the Santa Barbara community where he would serve for four years. He would go on to hold a number of various public safety positions before joining the Clovis Police Department in 1987. After 22 years of serving the Clovis community, Bessinger retired as the captain.
“Public safety has always been something I’ve enjoyed,” Bessinger said. “I joined the military at 18. I’ve held numerous officer positions, it has just always been something that has interested me and I love to do it.”
After a couple of years in retirement and his friends saying that’s enough hummingbirds from you, he decided he was not finished as an officer yet. After only three years of retirement, Bessinger joined the police force at the airport.
“I went back to work at the airport and I realized I still had gas left in my tank and the thing is if you don’t use your gas it goes bad,” Bessinger said. “So I wanted to continue working and you know you’ve got to ride the pony until she bucks or you don’t ride at all and that’s kind of what I’m doing.”
Bessinger knew through his time as an officer in the numerous positions he held that one day he wanted to serve his community as a councilmember or a position similar, but he could never do that as an officer because it was prohibited. So once he retired he pulled papers to register for a position in 2010 but he never turned them in.
“I knew that when [former Clovis mayor] Nathan Magsig won the supervisor position that there was going to be an opportunity for a spot and then when Harry [Armstrong] retired there was a second position open and it’s been a long time since two positions have been open like that in Clovis, almost 20 years now,” Bessinger said. “Magsig got his position as supervisor and I wasn’t going to let this opportunity get away so I turned my papers in – unlike 2010 – and I ran for office.”
Bessinger won his election race and is now one of two new elects to the Clovis City Council. He was given Armstrong’s seat so he now serves as the Mayor Pro Tem as well as Councilmember.
He hopes he can serve the city of Clovis in that role until there is no more gas left in his tank.
“My public service spans five decades and hopefully I can get reelected in two years and then it can span six decades,” Bessinger said.