City Council Vote No on Campaign Contribution Limit

(Jorge Rodriguez/CR Photo)

The City of Clovis held their second city council meeting of the month on Monday, Oct. 12.

During the roll call for the meeting it was noticed that Councilmember Vong Mouanoutoua would be absent from the meeting and all items needing to be voted on would have one absent vote.

The first item on the agenda discussed by the council was a consideration to change municipal ordinance on campaign contribution limits, because of the new state law that would go into effect next year.

The state will set a limit of $4,700 contribution per single individual to any political campaign. This limit would only be for an individual contribution from a person and not a PAC or any other contribution by another entity.

Currently, the city doesn’t have a contribution limit, but it does have a voluntary expenditure limit of $1 per resident of the city.

The council was given three options, one, to adopt the current state limit; two, to stay the same and take no current action on changing their voluntary policy; or three, to set their own limits on campaign contribution. It was explained to the council that if they didn’t take any action the limit will be changed to the state’s limit on the first day of January.

Councilmember Lynne Ashbeck said that she felt the state’s limit was too high and that she was not in favor of it, but if they needed to limit that it should be lower than the state’s limit.

“I would not be in favor of the state limit, I would be more inclined to set something more moderate,” Ashbeck said. “The $4,700 does not seem right to me.”

Councilmember Bob Whalen said that their current voluntary limit has been working fine and that he is in favor of continuing with what the city has been doing so far.

“If it is not broken then why fix it and maybe if at some point, if we feel that there was a need for this particular type of limit then by all means, let’s put a limit on it,” Whalen said. “I don’t think we need to be tinkering with something that doesn’t need to be tinkered with.”

Councilmember Jose Flores mentioned that the honor system has been used for many years and there has never been any problems with it.

“I don’t think that anybody in 22 years has ever violated that volunteer limit, but someone could,” Flores said. “It’s an honor system that no one has violated ever in Clovis…and we are okay with that.”

Mayor Drew Bessinger agreed with Councilmember Whalen, saying that he sees no need for changing something that has been working fine.

Whalen made a motion for option number two which will continue with the voluntary system the city has had. The motion was second by Flores and it was passed unanimously by the city council.

The next item on the agenda was the final acceptance of the Willow Widening Project, which transformed Willow Avenue from Shepherd Avenue to Copper from one lane to three lanes.

This project had a total price of over $9 million and had a partnership with the city and county of Fresno. The project was funded by Measure C and other local programs from the City of Clovis and the County of Fresno.

County Supervisor Steve Brandau along with several of the partners involved with the project were in attendance at the city council meeting to see finalization of the project. City engineer Mike Harrison said that this was the largest capital project that his staff had designed and constructed using just in house staff.

Kevin Gross, the project’s engineer said that it was an honor working on this project and that he moved from the private sector to the public sector to have an impact on the city that he loves.

Gross mentioned that this project couldn’t have been possible without the help of the County of Fresno, the City of Fresno and CalTrans along with other businesses and utilities. Gross also thanked the entire team that worked in the project, because it was their hard work that made the project possible.

Mayor Bessinger said that this was a prime example of a group effort and that he was proud of this project. The motion passed and the capital improvement project was accepted unanimously.

Jorge Rodriguez
Jorge Rodriguez has a passion for journalism and wants to bring the community information and great stories. After high school Jorge joined the U.S. Army and while in active duty he was deployed twice to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. While in college he worked for the Fresno City College Rampage and the Fresno State Collegian newspapers. He graduated from Fresno State in 2019 with a degree in print journalism.