Two Clovis City Council members were honored at one of their final official Council meetings on Monday December 5th.
In a meeting that began by honoring Clovis Unified Board Member Betsy Sandoval on her retirement, the Clovis City Council then transitioned into honoring two of their own.
Current Mayor Jose Flores and Councilman Bob Whalen were both recognized publicly in front of a rather large crowd inside of the Council chambers and were presented with accolades fitting for their service to the city.
Mayor Flores, first elected to the Clovis City Council in 1999 served three terms as Mayor from 2001-2003, 2011-2013, and 2020-2022. Flores announced his leaving from the Clovis City Council earlier this year, but intends to continue to serve as the Chief of Police for the State Center Community College (SCCCD) Police Department.
Councilman Bob Whalen was elected to serve as a judge for the Superior Court of Fresno County in California and will assume this office officially on January 2nd, 2023. Whalen, elected to the Clovis City Council in March of 2003 served as Mayor of Clovis from 2007-2009 and 2017-2019.
In their final council meeting, the two members were honored in a ceremony in which awards were presented to them.
First, proclamations were read to each by fellow Councilmembers Drew Bessinger and Vong Mouanoutoua.
“It is nearly impossible to reflect on any significant contribution in our city over the last twenty-four years without seeing Joe’s (Mayor Flores) influence,” said Councilman Bessinger in a proclamation read to Flores, a fellow councilmen whom he called not only his colleague but a friend.
Councilman Vong Mouanoutoua presented Bob Whalen’s proclamation when he read, “Whereas council member Whalen’s numerous accomplishments are too vast to list. But to name a few he was involved with or spearheaded, Clovis’ vast trail system, the city’s research and technology park, Clovis’ Police and Fire Department Headquarters, the Public Utilities Corporation Yard, the Miss Winkles Pet Adoption Center, Fire Stations 1,4,5, and 6, and the Surface Water Treatment Plant and the Water We-Use facility.”
Plaques listing and commemorating both councilmembers’ years of service were presented to the duo alongside “Bronco Billy” Bronze statues, a specific honor given to Clovis residents who most resemble the qualities of Clovis.
Finally, street signs with both Whalen and Flores’ names were presented to them, another honor bestowed to a Clovis resident or in this case, public servant, by the City of Clovis when best exemplifying the standard for a Clovis resident or public servant.
Mayor Flores commented on the ceremony and reflected on his time serving as both Councilman and Mayor of Clovis.
“It’s been a pleasure working with the staff and administrations over the years. I’m honored to be a part of this great organization that is the City of Clovis.”
He ended by saying that this indeed wasn’t an official “retirement” from politics and plans to hold the City Council accountable.
“If things go bad here, I’ll come stand over there,” as he pointed to the lectern, “and make sure that things are corrected. I think I leave you in good hands and I couldn’t be prouder of this council. With that, I say ‘Goodbye’ as your Mayor and City Councilmember.”
Councilman Whalen said “goodbye” to the public and the council by giving gifts to each of his fellow council members with specific meaning behind each one. But Whalen perhaps got the biggest round of applause of the night when he spoke about his family and the struggles that come with serving the public .
“Like Jose said, public service comes with a lot of private sacrifice…There are times when being a council member requires spending time away from family.” Whalen would continue his statement by recollecting a trip that he and his family once got to take to Monterrey. “But there were a lot of nights where I wasn’t able to do that. So I missed out on some stuff, both with Jackie and also with Nancy.”
Whalen, getting choked up in front of the crowd, but still able to thank his family, uttered, “I want to thank them, because I couldn’t have done this without you, and I hope I can make up for that lost time.”
The ceremonies ended with Mayor Pro-Tem Lynne Ashbeck reminding the public that both Whalen and Flores will join the council for the beginning of their next council meeting, before formally handing over the reigns to newly elected Matt Basgall and Diane Pearce.
Perhaps the best example of symbolism when thinking of this particular council over the years came from Whalen’s final comments to council when he mentioned an event that has happened more than a number of times.
“I was looking at Drew and I was smiling because whenever we do the Consent Calendar, it’s always Lynne who makes the motion and Drew who seconds, and it’s just like clockwork. It’s a small thing, but I just love the consistency. It was really fun to live it one more time.”
The Clovis City Council hopes to continue that consistency in the future that its now, past, members once truly appreciated.