Clovis Mayor Bob Whalen feels that Clovis’ agricultural roots are part of why it is a town marked by friendliness.
“Having that agricultural history — having to rely on one another,” Whalen said. “You never know when you’re going to need your neighbor.”
Whalen, 52, grew up in Cedarville, a Northern California town near the Nevada border that also has an agricultural background.
Regarding Cedarville, Whalen said there were “a lot more cattle than there were people.”
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He moved to the Central Valley to attend Fresno State, where his father, as well as two of his brothers, call their alma mater.
Whalen became familiar with Clovis growing up because four previous generations of his family, including his mother, had lived there.
“It seemed like a real charmed place,” Whalen said.
Whalen said his transition from high school to college was a culture shock.
Whalen’s high school graduating class was comprised of 19 people.
“And then to come to a university like Fresno State, which people think is kind of a small town university – but for a kid like me, it was huge,” Whalen said. “I remember my older brother told me – listen, university is designed to expose you to a variety of different experiences.”
During his time in college, he also served as student body president.
After earning a degree in finance, Whalen worked as a stockbroker. He then went to law school at Regent University in Virginia.
Whalen said although he did well as a stockbroker, “I had a feeling that being an attorney would be even more fulfilling.”
He was drawn to Regent University because it was Christian based.
“I try to live my life in such a way that’s consistent with my faith,” Whalen said.
When he and his wife lived in Virginia, they became close with a young girl who lived with her grandmother.
“She kind of connected to us as a pseudo mom and dad,” Whalen said.
The young girl’s grandmother passed away when she was 15 and Whalen and his wife became her legal guardians and raised her in Clovis.
“If I want to express love to Christ, the way that I do that is by simply trying to love another person more than I love myself,” Whalen said.
After finishing law school in 1997, Whalen worked in San Francisco for the American Center for Law and Justice. His work focused on First Amendment issues regarding expressions of faith.
“The First Amendment was designed to make sure that we, in this country, could express those really fundamental parts of who you are as a person,” Whalen said. “And for people to try to shut down that voice is contrary to what makes our country unique.”
Whalen then returned to Clovis and was hired as a deputy district attorney for Fresno County by Ed Hunt, who was the district attorney at the time. He became a chief deputy district attorney in 2015.
“I like that it’s not about winning the case, but revealing the truth and honoring the Constitution,” Whalen said.
In 2003, Whalen ran for Clovis city council. In addition to his current term, Whalen was also mayor of Clovis from 2007 to 2009.
Former mayor Nathan Magsig, now a Fresno County supervisor, served with Whalen on the Clovis city council for more than a decade.
“You never have to guess what his opinion is or where he’s coming from,” Magsig said. “He’s typically always about the facts and getting to the truth of the matter.”
When he’s not busy serving the city of Clovis, Whalen enjoys surfing for recreation.
“There’s something really magical about the ability to just kind of be one with nature,” Whalen said. “It’s like you’re being held in the palm of the hand of the ocean.”
He and his wife have a daughter, Jackie, who is 16.
Jackie Whalen said that her father prioritizes his faith before all other things in his life.
“I want to be a Christian first, just as he is,” she said. “He’s a very good role model for me.”