Documenter: Heather Martinez

The Scene

The Clovis City Council special reorganization meeting took place on Monday, March 22, 2021 at 6:00 p.m. Almost three weeks prior to the meeting, a March 2 election, resulted in Ashbeck and Mouanoutoua retaining their seats on the council. 

The meeting was made available via Webex and YouTube Live. The agenda states that face masks are required for those who attend in person due to COVID-19. Ashbeck was the only council member to wear a face mask throughout the meeting. The other council members did not wear face masks while seated during the meeting.

Names of officials:

Drew Bessinger, Outgoing Mayor (also Chief of Police, Fresno Yosemite International Airport)

Jose Flores, Outgoing Mayor Pro Tem/New Mayor (also Chief of Police, State Center Community College District Police Department)

Lynne Ashbeck, Council Member/New Mayor Pro Tem (also Senior Vice President Community Engagement and Population Wellness, Valley Children’s Healthcare)

Vong Mouanoutoua, Council Member (also External Relations and Project Development Director, Community Medical Foundation)

Bob Whalen, Council Member (also Fresno County Deputy District Attorney)

The meeting opened with Whalen leading the council in the Pledge of Allegiance. 

From there, the meeting was open for public comments. No one was in council chambers or online to make comments. 


  • Approve various actions related to the March 2, 2021 election:

    • Approved unanimously the results of the March 2 election, reelecting Ashbeck and Mouanoutoua to the council. Their terms will be for three years rather than the traditional four as the city will move in 2022 to be aligned with the presidential election. This will be Ashbeck’s sixth term on the council and Mouanoutoua’s second term.

  • Councilmembers Ashbeck and Mouanoutoua took the oath of office with the City Clerk. 

    • “I feel really sentimental about this and I don’t exactly know why, I cried on my way driving here and I don’t know why,” Ashbeck said as she teared up. “I feel really lucky and humbled and honored to serve the City of Clovis. I really love this city so it’s been an honor to serve.” She introduced her husband, Jeff Hensley, a small business owner. She brought a photo from 2009 when she was sworn in and her dad was in San Diego and wasn’t able to attend, but joined via Skype. She said that she was wearing Navy wings in honor of her late father. “It was a hard campaign, I thought, it wasn’t my favorite, but I’m glad Vong and I were able to serve together and serve with the rest of you,” she said. 

    • Mouanoutoua thanked God for giving him the opportunity to serve the city and for bringing him to America. His family immigrated to the United States as refugees from Laos. “I think this nation is great because we are a nation under God,” he said. “I want to thank this nation, I think we forget how great a nation we have to be able to go through elections in the way in which we did. You get to decide who will lead you and who will make the decisions for you…instead of us just fighting to see who is the strongest or who has the largest family or the largest arms, whatever it is, the most money.” Mouanoutoua thanked his wife, Jane, and his kids for understanding what he does and his brothers, sisters and community for their support during the campaign. He also thanked his parents who he said may have been watching on Webex and for bringing them to America. He also thanked his fellow councilmembers and Bessinger specifically for leading them through, “a tumultuous time.” 

    • Mouanoutoua then proposed that the term of mayor be switched to a one-year term. “That will only cheat me in not having a two-term because everyone has served and given that elections may or may not be similar anymore moving forward that we switch it to one-year term,” he said. “And as a caveat, maybe only do it until Drew’s seat comes up for mayor again then we can go back to a two-year term if it doesn’t work out for the next four years.” 

      • Whalen said he would like to look into it further before they deviate from past practice. “The reasons that you state, I understand, but I don’t know what your deeper thoughts on this,” Whalen said. “That first year you really get into your stride and that second year you’re able to actually able to fulfill that role without hesitation.” 

      • Bessinger agreed with Whalen saying, “my major concern would be the burden it would put on staff basically breaking in someone new every year.” 

      • “We’re going to get the demographer’s report on the census and we’re going to look at the districts and all of those questions and one of those questions could be the mayor in some form or another,” Ashbeck said. “So it could be that that’s a moment in time, but this time around the mayor’s role will be from today to November of 2022.”

      • Flores said, “I think Clovis is going to have to do a lot of thinking here very soon and how we all get elected in the near future. And these are forces that are outside of Clovis coming into Clovis and making us make those tough decisions. Will Clovis be the same Clovis? Will we be divided into districts? What form of districts will we have? Will we have an at-large mayor? Will the people decide who the mayor is? We do have models of a one-year term legislative leader at the supervisor level…it used to be random, basically a beauty contest and it was never a rotation until Lynne and I came into office and Nathan and then we started the rotation…and if the voters choose to keep you on the council long enough then you become mayor.” Ultimately, Flores said he thought they should stick to the, “status quo.” “The city has allowed organically to have this diversity,” he said. “You know we have these forces coming in telling us we must be diverse and yet, we are. I think that’s beautiful that we and our city, a city that’s sometimes called a non-diverse city is actually represented by some of the most diverse people you can put in one room.” “It takes 10 years to become mayor here if you continue to be reelected and I think that’s your report card,” he said. “If the citizens of Clovis want a particular candidate to remain their representative leader on the council they will get reelected.”

  • Without any discussion, the council announced Flores as the city’s new mayor, his third time serving as the city’s mayor. He replaced Bessinger, who made somewhat controversial remarks last year during a Trump rally, which had some Clovis residents asking him to resign. 

    • Flores thanked the council and said he was humbled, but then turned to honor Bessinger. He said they joked about being separated at birth. “He’s a good friend and I respect him for the mayor he’s been to us,” Flores said. Whalen said, “when people reflect on this time, they will realize that we had the right person at the helm, and that was you, so thank you for that.” Ashbeck said she was grateful for Bessinger’s friendship. Flores presented Bessinger with the mayor’s gavel, which he said is a tradition in Clovis. Bessinger joked and said, “I’ll use this at home later.” To which, Flores responded that it was, “to tenderize meat.” “We trusted our people to do the right thing and they did,” he said reflecting back on the year. “We had the lowest COVID rates in the county even though we are the second largest city in Fresno County.”

    • Flores thanked his wife, Shelly, who was in attendance and commented that she was recently released from the hospital. Looking to his term ahead, he said, “there are people, I call them external forces, because they are, they are not people from here. They are people from outside that want us to change, and if change is warranted we will change. We’re not dumb, we do know what to do and to do the proper thing. You have a group of highly educated people on this council. If they can demonstrate that things are wrong in Clovis, we’ll listen and we’ll listen closely and we will fix things in Clovis because that’s what we’ll do and we’ll make it better. And we’ll make it the best in the region, but they have to prove to us that we’re not doing it properly, so we’ll take those challenges any day of the week.” 

  • Whalen nominated Ashbeck for mayor pro tem, replacing Flores. The rest of the council approved unanimously. 

    • “I think that Lynne has shown herself to be one of the most capable elected officials in this county,” Whalen said. “I find that her love for the city of Clovis and really all things local is extraordinary. There is such a high level of comfort that I have whenever Lynne is in a position of leadership and to put her in this mayor pro tem position I think is a natural fit.” 

    • Bessinger agreed with Whalen and pointed out that she was on the planning commission for years prior to joining the city council in 2001. “Your depth of understanding and commitment to the city is extraordinary and you are a perfect fit for this position,” he said.

    • Mouanoutou commented on her being the only woman on the council. “You bring excellent balance,” he said. “You may be the only female, but it takes three or four males to handle you.” The council responded by laughing and he continued saying, “you have been such a great mentor to me watching from afar before and now, right next to you.” 

In closing, Flores opened it up for council comments. Whalen said he was happy to see the council return together again and that he was thankful for that. “Every council member brings a unique set of life experiences that are fun for us and citizens to observe,” he said. “Jose is tough but also extremely compassionate and that combination, I think I see in all of us, but Jose does not hesitate to call things out when they are wrong and he doesn’t strive to be politically correct in any fashion.” Ashbeck said she’s happy to serve again and that she was feeling sentimental. Bessinger said he was looking forward to serving the next two years under his friend, Mayor Flores. 

Flores’ final comments were about his parents immigrating to Clovis. “I think Lynne and I will work great as a team, she’s been here just a year shy of me, so we know how to do this,” Flores said. He then joked about Bessinger’s love of insignias and flags and banners, including the challenge coin and the flag that he helped design. 

The meeting adjourned at 6:56 p.m. Future meetings are scheduled for April 5, 12 and 19. 


  • The council elected Jose Flores as the new mayor of Clovis. He was first elected to the council in 1999 and this will be his third term as the city’s mayor. Looking to his term ahead, he said, “there are people, I call them external forces, because they are. They are not people from here, they are people from outside that want us to change, and if change is warranted we will change.” 

  • The council elected Lynne Ashbeck as mayor pro tem. She was first elected in 2001 and has served two terms as mayor. “I feel really lucky and humbled and honored to serve the City of Clovis,” she said. “I really love this city so it’s been an honor to serve.” 

  • Both Ashbeck and Mouanoutoua were sworn into office by the city clerk. Their terms will be for three years rather than the traditional four as the city will move in 2022 to be aligned with the presidential election. This will be Ashbeck’s sixth term on the council and Mouanoutoua’s second term.

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