Five Clovis residents will run for Clovis City Council in March, sending voters to the polls for the first time since 2009.
The 4-year seats of Mayor Nathan Magsig and Clovis City Council Member Lynne Ashbeck are expiring. In addition, the seat of longtime Council Member Harry Armstrong, who resigned in October, is open as a 2-year post.
In all, seven people took out papers to run. But only five returned them to the city by the 4:30 p.m. Friday deadline. The filing period ended Friday afternoon.
Clovis has not had a contested City Council election since 2009. Elections were canceled in 2011, 2013 and 2015 when only the incumbents filed paperwork. The March 7 election will mark the first time since 2001 that two council seats will be open in Clovis.
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The only incumbent for a 4-year seat, Ashbeck, has taken out papers and had 20 signatures verified by the Fresno County Elections Office to qualify for the ballot, said John Holt, Clovis city clerk.
The other 4-year seat candidate is Vong Mouanoutoua, who served as Clovis Planning Commission chairman and teaches at Fresno State. Mouanoutoua’s petition signatures were verified this past week.
Steve Crawford, a Fresno Police Department sergeant, pulled out papers but said Wednesday he doesn’t plan to run. On Friday, Holt confirmed that Crawford did not file.
The 2-year seat to replace Armstrong appears to be more competitive.
Retired Clovis police Capt. Drew Bessinger had signatures verified Wednesday as a candidate for the seat vacated by Armstrong, Holt said. Paul Soares, a health care executive, had his petition signatures verified Thursday.
8The number of years since a Clovis City Council election
Aaronjack Perry, president of a nonprofit food distribution organization, said Thursday he turned in his petition signatures. They were verified Friday, County Clerk Brandi Orth said.
On Thursday, a fourth potential candidate for the 2-year seat, Porifirio Saenz, took out papers. But he did not return them by the deadline.
The council and city staff are preparing to operate with only three council members after Magsig leaves in January. Ashbeck, Jose Flores and Bob Whalen will serve on the smaller council until March, when new council members will be sworn in.
Even though only two candidates are filing for the two 4-year seats, the city will still hold an election, Holt said.
“There is a potential somebody could run a write-in campaign,” he said. “The ballot would still be worded to select no more than two.”
Typically, an extension to next Wednesday would be tacked on when incumbents don’t file by the deadline, but Armstrong resigned, Magsig won election to the board of supervisors and Ashbeck’s petition signatures were turned in early, City Attorney David Wolfe said.
Clovis City Council members make about $15,468 per year. They will get a 6 percent raise in March to $16,404 per year.