For the first time in 16 years, the Clovis City Council has added two new members. It’s also the first time in 14 years a new member has joined the council.
Vong Mouanoutoua, a former planning commissioner who ran unopposed, and Drew Bessinger, a retired Clovis police captain, won seats Tuesday night. Bessinger defeated Paul Soares, a newcomer to Clovis city government who was well-funded.
With all precincts reporting, the unofficial results show Bessinger had 67.9 percent of the vote and Soares 29.6 percent. A third candidate, Aaronjack Perry, who didn’t actively campaign, brought in 2.4 percent.
Several hundred votes remain to be counted before the results are official. Turnout was 13.2 percent.
Mouanoutoua and Bessinger will be sworn in March 27.
Bessinger replaces longtime Councilman Harry Armstrong, who resigned in October because of health issues. Armstrong, 86, was a council member for 46 years.
“I worked really hard knocking on doors and going after early absentee votes,” Bessinger said. “I think the numbers are indicative of the effort I put in.”
The winner must run again in 2019, when the seats of Council Members Bob Whalen and Jose Flores also expire.
After Armstrong retired, City Council Member Nathan Magsig was sworn in as a Fresno County supervisor, leaving the council with three members. The new members will return the council to a full roster.
The last time a new council member joined the Clovis City Council was in 2003, when Whalen emerged from a pack of eight candidates. Flores and Armstrong also won that year. Tuesday marked the first Clovis City Council election since 2009.
Also elected Tuesday night was unopposed incumbent Lynne Ashbeck, who earned her fifth four-year term on the council.
16 The number of years since two new Clovis City Council members were added
In 2001, Ashbeck and Magsig were both elected as new members to the council, the last time two new members were added.
Even though the ballots said vote for two candidates, many voters only cast one vote between Mouanoutoua and Ashbeck. Ashbeck had 6,327 votes and Mouanoutoua 3,759. About 4,700 residents only voted for one.
Clovis City Council members earn about $15,468 per year. They will soon get a raise to $16,404 per year.