Entering his third term of serving as Clovis’ mayor, Jose Flores leans on his decades of experience in achieving the goal of a better Clovis.
“When it’s time for us to move on, we [want to] leave a better community, region, state and country,” Flores said.
Flores’ goal for this current term is to continue his work as a humble servant and leave a lasting legacy of making Clovis a better place.
In the next 18 months, Flores is challenged with combating affordable housing, COVID-19, growth and equity, among other issues.
If successful, Flores will undoubtedly leave the desired legacy, adding to his 40-years of public service.
Plans against COVID-19
In the short term, the fight against COVID-19 continues, and Flores says that this battle will continue to be the city council’s focus.
Although vaccination supplies are limited, several health providers, like United Health Centers, provide the vaccine at multiple vaccination clinics. The city has assisted in the effort to get Clovis residents vaccinated.
Despite these clinics, Clovis has yet to have a mass vaccination site, but Flores says California Governor Gavin Newsom has promised more mass vaccination clinics.
And if one is opened in Clovis, the City will assist.
Flores says that he and the council will promote vaccines’ safety to encourage citizens to get vaccinated. They will also promote taking the appropriate precautions, like wearing masks and social distancing.
He says that people need to do their own risk assessments based on science to navigate daily life amid the pandemic.
“You can’t be that nonchalant, laissez-faire person. You better get that vaccination as soon as you’re eligible. You better do your risk assessment,” Flores said.
Flores says that the goal is to return to a normal that resembles life before the pandemic, but for businesses, schools and the City to operate like before, people must learn to coexist with the virus.
“We will never get rid of this virus for the rest of our existence. We have to coexist with this virus,” Flores said.
Flores wants the citizens to have the freedom to live their lives, and the city will continue to fight back against entities that try to overregulate Clovis businesses and residents.
“We want to fight back. Clovis has always fought back, [against] what California and the Fresno County Health Department tried to do to our businesses and our residents,” Flores said. “And we’re going to fight harder.”
Despite being in a pandemic, some people still feel that taking safety precautions and receiving the vaccination, like Flores is promoting, is unnecessary.
Flores says that those people exist, and because those people are out there, those who choose safety should continue to do so.
“I know those people exist…Therefore, as soon as that vaccine was available to me, I took advantage of it…I wear the mask…Distance myself…Wash my hands regularly,” Flores said. “Those people, they’re playing Russian Roulette with their lives.”
Clovis has drawn criticism for the lack of affordable housing built within its city limits in the last year and a half.
In October 2019, the Central California Legal Services, a group that advocates for citizens with limited incomes, sued the city to ensure plans for more affordable housing take place.
According to a recent annual housing needs report, zero affordable units were constructed in 2020. In contrast, the report says that developers built 1,124 units for buyers with moderate-to-above-moderate incomes.
Flores says that addressing insufficient affordable housing units is in his long-term goals as mayor, but the issue itself is complicated.
He says that although Clovis has provided the necessary space for affordable housing, the amount of cost and lack of federal grants makes partnership opportunities with developers rare.
“There should be a developer that comes into Clovis and builds on the land that we’ve made available, but no one’s coming,” Flores said. “Mostly because they don’t have the funding…And no government entity willing to fund them.”
Flores says that when federal or state funding is provided for affordable housing projects, the projects are approved and constructed.
He says that even when funding is provided for a project, the cost of what a private developer could do for a lot less multiplies due to state regulations.
Flores questions why the advocates who ask Clovis to build affordable housing don’t call on the state to change zoning regulations so developers can build affordable housing projects at a lower cost.
“I asked that [housing] question many times when these advocates came to me, and I got no answer,” Flores said.
External Forces and Clovis Envy
Flores says that as he and the council continue to do what is best for the City, external forces try to change how they do business.
“There are external groups that have now focused on Clovis. They don’t like the way we do things even though we’re [Clovis] a place where people want to live,” Flores said.
Flores chooses not to name specific external forces to remain diplomatic but feels that the cause of outside groups wanting change is from what he has dubbed ‘Clovis Envy.’
He says that the City and Clovis Unified School District receive a lot of criticism, yet in terms of success, both entities are thriving.
“Others want to change that [success], so we can resemble what they have,” Flores said. “And what they have doesn’t even come close to what we produced here.”
Flores says envy leads to turmoil, social unrest and social ills currently taking place across the United States.
He says that instead of surrounding cities asking what they can do to model Clovis’ success, they choose to tear the city down.
“Instead of saying, ‘What can we do to use Clovis as a model to lift ourselves, to uplift our neighborhoods,” Flores said. “No, we’re going to tear them down.”
Flores says that he believes the voters have kept the same councilmembers on for so long because the council continues to advocate for the City the residents have grown accustomed to.
“There’s a reason why I think the voters keep us on as long as they do,” said Flores. “They want to keep the City they’ve become accustomed to.”
Flores says that the City needs strong people who understand what Clovis has been and should be in the future, and the City has those experienced people within its City Council.