Registered voters should be receiving their ballots now and can mail in or drop off at designated vote centers through Nov. 8, 2022. Credit: Von Balanon

This election season, three seats are up for grabs to represent Clovis residents on the City Council, as councilmembers Jose Flores and Bob Whalen step down, and councilmember Drew Bessinger runs to retain his seat.

What’s at stake?

Move over, cowboys – once a rural farm town, and now a booming suburb of Fresno – Clovis has surpassed Fresno as one of the fastest growing cities in California. In a region that is otherwise majority-Latino, Clovis still maintains its majority-white status, with 50% of residents identifying that way. (Fresno, by contrast, is just 26% white, according to new census numbers.)

Clovis, like the rest of California, is facing a significant affordable housing shortage, and is in litigation over whether the city is intentionally trying to keep people with lower-incomes out of the relatively affluent city. As Clovis rapidly approves subdivisions, and the territory its police and fire departments cover continues to expand, the city is facing financial difficulties in adequately funding these essential services. 

Clovis is rapidly sprawling to the east and north and new neighborhoods are added to its tax rolls, and residents have growing concerns about whether the city can maintain a high quality of life – well funded parks, trails, and roads.  The city has a new water supply agreement with Fresno Irrigation District to provide some water from the Kings River stored at Pine Flat, but residents on the fringe of the city, that rely on domestic wells, worry that they’re being left – literally – to dry. 

What does a Clovis City Councilmember do?

Clovis has five city council members that represent the entire city, not a specific district, unlike many cities. 

A good amount of the council members’ time is spent reviewing and approving land use and zoning policy – including new housing subdivisions, land use plans, commercial shopping centers, and the roads, parks, and utilities that support them. They supervise the police, fire and parks departments. They also approve budgets and have the authority to put new taxes on the ballot.

They do not oversee the schools – that’s the job of the Clovis Unified School District.

Unlike Fresno, the Clovis City Council is more powerful than the mayor, who is an elected representative on the city council. The council directs the city manager, who then oversees city departments and administration.

Who is running for Clovis City Council?

Ten candidates are running for three open seats on the Clovis City Council; nine of them are new to local government. As the only incumbent in the candidate pool, Drew Bessinger is up for reelection for the second time; he was first elected in 2017 and re-elected in 2019.

Outgoing Mayor Jose Flores has been on the council for 24 years and announced his retirement in July. Councilmember Bob Whalen is resigning because he was elected as a Fresno County Superior Court judge in June and will take his seat in January. 

Eight of the 10 candidates participated in a city council debate at the Clovis Veterans Memorial District on Oct. 4. Candidates Martin Salas and Mark Kazanjian were not at the debate. 

Clovis council members are selected at-large, meaning the top three vote-getters will be picked by the city’s entire voting pool. 

Matt Basgall

Matt Basgall is the Director of Security for the private for-profit California Health Sciences University, owned by developer and businessman Farid Assemi. He served as the Clovis Chief of Police for five years prior to retiring in August 2019. The former chief worked with the Clovis Police Department for 29 years. Basgall serves as the Chair of the Men’s Leadership Council for the Marjaree Mason Center.

At the Oct. 4 debate, Basgall said that he has lived in Clovis since he was 5 years old. He and his wife, Joni Munro, both graduated from Clovis High School and are the parents of two adult children. He is a graduate of California State University, Stanislaus and the California Police Standards and Training Command College. 

When asked how he would assist the city’s growing homeless population during the debate, Basgall said in the past they had officers assigned specifically to helping homeless, but that they, “run into a lot of people who do not want those resources.” He said that officers then use enforcement tactics, such as impounding their belongings and, “taking them to jail sometimes.” 

Go Deeper: Read the Clovis Roundup’s profile of Matt Basgall

Drew Bessinger

Drew Bessinger has been on the Clovis City Council since March 2017. He retired from the Clovis Police Department where he served from 1987 to 2009 and had previously served as the police chief at the Fresno Yosemite International Airport. He also worked as the interim police chief for the cities of Kingsburg, Parlier, Fowler and Atwater. 

Bessinger is on the board of the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District. He served as the mayor of Clovis in 2020 and was criticized for speaking at a Trump rally where speakers falsely claimed that the results of the presidential election were fraudulent.

At the Clovis City Council debate, he said that the city shouldn’t be building multi-story affordable housing buildings, because it requires the city to pay prevailing wages to construction workers. (It is generally the consensus among experts that in order to meet affordable housing goals, multi-story construction is necessary.)

Go Deeper: Read the Clovis Roundup’s profile of Drew Bessinger

Kyle Chaney

Kyle T. Chaney is a husband, father of three and a sales manager for Guarantee Real Estate. He has lived in Clovis for nearly two decades and is an alum of Clovis West High School and Fresno State. He has his bachelor’s degree in political science. His wife, Alicynne, serves as deputy principal at a Clovis Unified high school. 

According to his campaign website, Chaney believes that Clovis should have one police officer for every 1,000 residents, in restoring local control, and reinvesting and revitalizing older neighborhoods. 

At the Clovis City Council debate, he said that he believes the city can assist its homeless population by offering them an opportunity to accept services, but that, “if they’re not willing to seek the help that we use the full force of the law to take them to a place where they can get help.” He said his top priority is public safety and that he believes the role of the city council is to be an advocate and representative for all members of Clovis. Chaney also said he believes it is important to have, “planned, balanced smart growth and that we aren’t growing at such a rate that we’re outstripping our ability to provide the services necessary,” which he said include public safety and infrastructure. 

Go Deeper: Read the Clovis Roundup’s profile of Kyle Chaney

Des Haus

Des Haus is a wife, a mother of two young daughters and a businesswoman. She works in strategic partnerships for SitelogIQ, a facility energy services company, where she has worked closely with legislative committees, caucuses, and organizations on the local, state, and national levels. 

She said she believes in equity through opportunity, citizens being able to work where they live, safety for all, and local control of government. She grew up in Huron and went to Coalinga High School. She moved to Clovis with her family after graduating from Fresno State.

At the debate, Haus said her top priority is economic development because, “without the funds, you can’t do anything.” She went on to say that she does support police and fire departments, but that the city needs to look at current legislation, grant opportunities and its own revenue streams to support public safety. “As we grow, we’re going to need more officers,” she said. “So we can’t decrease what they have coming in, so we need to increase our general reserve.” 

Go Deeper: Read the Clovis Roundup’s profile of Des Haus

Joe Hebert

Joseph “Joe” Hebert is the director of parks and community services for the City of Madera as well as a personnel commissioner for the State Center Community College District. He has lived in Clovis for 13 years and moved to the area after he was recruited to work for Pelco/Schneider Electric where he worked as an executive for more than 10 years. He has a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s degree in public administration. He is the only Democrat running for city council in Clovis, although the seat is nonpartisan.

Hebert has served on an affordable housing board, participated in Leadership Fresno and is a past graduate and current board member of the San Joaquin Political Academy. He’s also an active board member for Salt & Light, a nonprofit organization in Visalia dedicated to helping homeless citizens. According to his campaign website, his vision for the future of Clovis includes safe neighborhoods, affordable homes, more jobs and second chances to those in need. 

“How do we treat homelessness in a different way, do we treat people who are homeless with dignity and with kindness?” Hebert said during the debate. “Maybe that way we’re able to have a better impact than what we’ve seen already. We’re not trying to fix anybody, we’re trying to help them.” Hebert also said that he feels the role of the council is to be the board of directors for the city’s department heads. In closing, Hebert said that he’s seen a lot of divisiveness creep from the national level down to the local level, but that on the city council, politics are local and non-partisan. “I believe we’re all on the same team, we all wear the same jersey and we all want what’s best for this city and that’s what I’m all about.” 

Go Deeper: Read the Clovis Roundup’s profile of Joe Hebert

Mark Allen Kazanjian

Mark Allen Kazanjian is the owner of “Neighbors” restaurants in Clovis. No campaign website or social media could be found for this candidate. He did not attend the Clovis City Council Debate on Oct. 4.

Diane Pearce

Diane Pearce and her husband own and operate a small business, King Productions. They moved to Clovis just over three years ago. She was appointed to serve on the Fresno County Civil Service Commission by Fresno County Supervisor Nathan Magsig. She is a contributor and host on KMJ 580 radio, a frequent panelist on “Sunday Morning Matters,” the KSEE 24 news program as well as a guest columnist for The Fresno Bee, where she provides commentary on politics from a conservative perspective. She is the president of Fresno County Federated Republican Women.

Pearce is a graduate of Fresno Christian High School and received her bachelor’s degree in political science and internal relations from U.C. Davis. After college, Pearce worked for former Congressman George Radanovich and as a substitute teacher in the Clovis Unified School District. According to her campaign website, she believes in fully funding public safety, supporting local business, maintaining local control and protecting Clovis schools. This is her second time running for the Clovis City Council.  

During the debate, Pearce was one of only two candidates, along with Hebert, who said they would not support a sales tax measure to fund public safety, though it is her top priority. “The only way to increase the dollars that go into the general fund is through increased revenues, so if we pursue commercial development and economic growth then we can actually address those issues in a way that doesn’t require us to go back to the citizens with a public safety tax,” she said. Pearce also stressed her belief in local control and that it is the job of the council to look for “loopholes” in policies, such as housing requirements. “I think it just takes people who are willing to fight for that local control, be willing to stand up and push back when Sacramento’s trying to tell us how to do things that don’t work for Clovis,” she said. 

Go Deeper: Read the Clovis Roundup’s profile of Diane Pearce

Joshua Phanco

Joshua Phanco is a co-owner of The Phanco Group, a local insurance agency branch of Allstate insurance that he owns with his wife. They have three children that attend Clovis schools. Phanco is a foundation for Clovis School Board director and Fresno Mission Board advisor. In 2012, Phanco took part in the Greater Fresno Chamber of Commerce Leadership class. 

His priorities include creating a business-friendly community in Clovis, providing funding for law enforcement and the fire department, and building responsibly in Clovis. Phanco believes Clovis is at a “critical point” due to rapid growth that could start impacting the Clovis lifestyle.

At the debate, Phanco said public safety was his top priority. He also said that he would work to help the city’s homeless population by engaging with community partners. “These are people, these are our neighbors, these are our friends,” Phanco said of the unhoused population. “Five members on the city council aren’t going to solve the homelessness problem unless we engage our community partners who live in this each and every day.” 

Go Deeper: Read the Clovis Roundup’s profile of Joshua Phanco

Guy Redner

Guy Redner is a 25-year resident of Clovis. On his campaign facebook page, he says that he has witnessed the growth and development of Clovis but also parts of the city that are left behind. Redner graduated from Clovis High School and ITT Technical Institute. He was most recently employed by China Peak Mountain Resort. 

Redner is a proponent of affordable housing, improving the public transit system, and addressing the growing homeless population. During the debate, he said, “My top priority is addressing the disparity between south Clovis and north Clovis. There is a divide and I want to address that divide.” 

He said he lives in a “poorer neighborhood” and he’s focused on the concerns of his neighbors and of the people that he grew up with deal with on a daily basis. such as the limitations of the city’s public transit system and lack of affordable housing. Redner also said that he would like to implement a “housing first” approach to address homelessness.

Martin Salas

Martin Salas is a Fresno police officer. In 2019, he received a Lifesaving Medal with Valor for forming a human chain that helped save a 19-year-old who lost control of their vehicle and drove into a canal. 

He could not be reached by email or phone to provide additional information and no campaign website or social media could be found for this candidate. He did not attend the Clovis City Council debate on Oct. 4.

Who is endorsing the candidates?

Matt Basgall

Clovis Police Officers Association 

Retired Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims

Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp

Fresno County Republican Party

Clovis Firefighters Association

Fresno County Prosecutors’ Association, among others.

Fresno Bee Editorial Board

Drew Bessinger

Congresswoman Connie Conway

Assemblyman Jim Patterson

Retired Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims

Fresno County Supervisor Nathan Magsig

Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer, among others

Fresno County Republican Party

Des Haus

Clovis Firefighters Association

Fresno Bee Editorial Board

Joseph Hebert

City of Madera Mayor Santos Garcia

City of Madera Mayor Pro-Tem Anita Evans

Fresno County Board of Education President Kimberly Tapscott-Munson

Fresno County Democratic Party

Fresno County Democratic Women’s Club

Central Valley Progressive PAC, among others.

Diane Pearce

Congressman Kevin McCarthy

Congresswoman Connie Conway

Congressman Tom McClintock

State Senator Shannon Grove

Assemblyman Jim Patterson

Fresno County Republican Party

Retired Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims

Joshua Phanco

City Councilmember Lynne Ashbeck

Clovis Firefighters Association

Clovis Police Officers Association 

Fresno Bee Editorial Board

Who is funding the candidates’ campaigns?

Matt Basgall has the funding lead, with over $103,000 raised so far. Suburban developers, contractors, and card room operators lead the way in total donations to candidates.

Click on the circles below to further explore who has given to each candidate.

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I created Fresnoland so we can make policy public for everyone.

Cassandra is a housing and engagement reporter with Fresnoland.

Gregory Weaver is a staff writer for Fresnoland who covers the environment, air quality, and development.

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