December 15, 2022: The Clovis City Council recently experienced changes in leadership.
Two longtime political leaders in the City of Clovis, Mayor Jose Flores and Councilman Bob Whalen did not seek reelection in the past November elections, leaving two seats open to newcomers of the Clovis City government.
These two newcomers, Matt Basgall and Diane Pearce, have been elected by the people of Clovis and have been officially sworn in as council members. The standing council members, including Mayor Lynne Ashbeck, Mayor Pro-Tem Vong Mouanoutoua, and incumbent Councilman Drew Bessinger, who ran alongside council members Basgall and Pearce, all have the similar experience and enthusiasm when it comes to serving their upcoming terms. Bessinger will serve until 2026, while Ashbeck and Mouanoutoua will choose whether or not to seek reelection in 2024.
Each council member has looked back to the past to identify what has been good for the public of Clovis while also looking towards the future and anticipating any possible changes that may need to be made.
Councilman Drew Bessinger, who made it clear that he and now former Mayor Flores will remain friends, spoke about what he looks forward to the most when working with the new council as a whole.
“I look forward to being with two new faces, one of them, I’ve known Matt for over two decades….We have problems that we’re gonna have to deal with, we’re gonna have different perspectives, we may not all agree on every solution, but we all have the same goal, and that’s to help the citizens of Clovis.”
He then went into speaking about a few of those problems that he believes are facing the city of Clovis.
“Like every community, we have a burgeoning homeless issue, we have an understaffed police department, we have an affordable housing crisis that’s being put on cities to fix, unfairly, but that’s kind of the way things go.”
Mayor Pro Tem Vong Mouanoutoua continued the sentiment of Bessinger, talking about how having new members of the City Council can have a great effect in the form of bringing new positions and ideas to the table.
“Having new people with new perspectives, new sorts of experiences, new views is always beneficial to a city like ours. Hopefully we can maintain the type of leadership that those before us have always maintained.”
Looking towards his next term, Mayor Pro Tem Mouanoutoua mentioned that he hopes the council can “…continue to be good stewards and servants of the people. And that we continue to have a servant’s heart.”
Newly elected Mayor Lynne Ashbeck is optimistic that while losing two long standing council members, the newly elected pair will put forth their new ideas in a move she says can “make a council special”.
“I think with new council members it’s sort of the intersection of new ideas which is great, new perspectives, they’ve had recent outreach into the community. I also look forward to continuing the traditions that make our council special.”
Mayor Ashbeck proclaimed that she thinks it’s the “combination” of working well with new members and their new ideas while also honoring those who have come from the past that “have got us to this point”.
On the leaving of Councilman Bob Whalen and Mayor Jose Flores, Mayor Ashbeck revealed, “After sitting next to those two for twenty-one and nineteen years, it’s personally, I will miss them, I will miss the forty years together of knowledge about our city. But for them, the time was right.”
She finished by pointing out that the two served the community for about twenty of the 110 year history of Clovis, and stated, “They were excellent servants, they were faithful servants, they did an excellent job.”
The perspective change that all three existing council members touched on seems to be a good marking point for where the City of Clovis looks to be headed. With changes coming from inside the council to start, the city now looks at how they can change its ideas into forming not only a more collective bond within its council chambers but also within its city’s residents. All the while, just as Mayor Lynne Ashbeck mentioned, “Keeping in honored tradition” in terms of values instilled in the past, remains another similarity amongst the City Council.
According to their answers, it appears that the Clovis City Council sits between changing perspective and keeping the city’s traditions alive. Just as these “traditions” have endured, the history of Clovis is what stands in the way of whether or not this City Council is able to do so.