Q&A with new Clovis City Manager Luke Serpa

Luke Serpa, Clovis City Manager. (Photo courtesy of City of Clovis)

On Monday, June 12, the Clovis City Council unanimously named Luke Serpa its new City Manager. The distinction comes on the heels of Serpa’s service as interim city manager after Robert Woolley’s retirement in December.

Clovis Mayor Bob Whalen noted Serpa’s friendly approach to people, his engineering background and understanding of water and its methods of conveyance as just a few of the reasons Serpa was the council’s choice.

The appointment is effective on July 1.

“I truly consider it an honor and a privilege to serve as Clovis’ City Manager,” said Serpa.

Serpa, 55, graduated from Fresno State in 1985 with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering. He worked 17 years with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, and three years with the Regional Water Quality Control Board.

He has served the City of Clovis for over 12 years working as Assistant Public Utilities Director for eight years, and as the Public Utilities Director for three years.

Serpa and his wife, Kathy, have lived in Clovis for over 30 years and they have two sons in college.

The Roundup caught up with him in a Q&A session:

The Roundup: In what areas do you feel Clovis needs improvement or change?

Serpa: There is always room for improvement, but generally I think Clovis is on the right track so I want to make improvements that are incremental in nature and continue to build on our successes. One thing we are working on improving is the way we communicate with our residents and businesses. In this digital age, people get news and communicate much differently than in the past; much of the dialog takes place on various social media platforms. Our police department has had growing social media presence for a few years and is out ahead of the rest of the city on the issue. I hope to use the expertise they have developed to expand the social media presence of all of the city’s departments in order to better communicate with our constituents.

The Roundup: How can residents help make these changes?

Serpa: I think a big part of our success as a city is due to the pride the residents take in Clovis and how they are generally well-informed and engaged on the issues we face. We all recognize that we work for the public, so we appreciate them being engaged and providing us with feedback; we do not want to ever be making decisions in a vacuum. Hopefully, as we expand our social media presence we can make it easier for them to stay engaged.

The Roundup: In what areas do you feel Clovis excels as a whole?

Serpa: I think the residents make Clovis the city that it is. I think there really is a “Clovis Way of Life,” and our residents live it every day, and I think they take real pride in their community.”

The Roundup: How about city organizations?

Serpa: I think we actually do a lot of things well. Our police department ensures that we are the safest city in the valley, our fire department is one of only eight internationally-accredited municipal fire departments in California, Clovis was one of the first cities in the valley to start recycling our wastewater to better manage our resources, our Senior Center provides vital services to our residents, we have a good network of trails, we have well-planned growth leading to us being one of the fastest growing cities in the valley … the list goes on and on. I think that from our council to our newest entry-level employee, our city organization is comprised of a lot of people working hard to provide the best possible services to our residents and businesses.

The Roundup: What direction do you want to take Clovis?  

Serpa: I think Clovis is on the right track so I want to continue in the same general direction.

The Roundup: How do you see Clovis five years from now?

Serpa: I see Clovis growing and continuing to thrive, and I see that growth as a testament to the desirability of the “Clovis Way of Life.” So far, I think we have done a pretty good job of maintaining a small-town feel even though we are a fairly sophisticated city of more than 100,000. That small town feel and the responsiveness of city staff are characteristics that we plan to maintain and foster as we continue to grow.