Clovis News

Armstrong is Clovis mayor for fifth time

Most folks in Clovis call Harry Armstrong the mayor, even in years when he isn't.

Now they will be correct again.

Armstrong, 78, who has served on the Clovis City Council for 38 years, was named mayor Tuesday night for an unprecedented fifth time. In the nearly 100-year history of Clovis, nobody else has been mayor more than twice.

The mayor in Clovis is voted on by the City Council on a two-year rotating basis after each City Council election. The mayor runs meetings, serves as a goodwill ambassador for community events and represents the city in county, regional and state meetings.

Armstrong is the second-longest continuously seated city council member in California, according to California League of Cities research.

Armstrong replaced Council Member Bob Whalen, who was mayor since 2007.

Council members Nathan Magsig and Lynne Ashbeck, who were elected for their third terms in the March 3 election, also were sworn in Tuesday night.

When Armstrong was elected in 1970, the second-oldest council member, Ashbeck, 54, was a sophomore in high school. Jose Flores, 50, was in sixth grade, Whalen was in kindergarten, and Magsig would not be born for six more years.

In 1970, Clovis had 22,133 residents and measured just over four square miles. Today, the city's population is 94,278, and it's almost six times larger geographically.

Armstrong, who first served as mayor in 1980, said the city is facing difficult times and he expects the council members to work together to solve its budget problems.

"We are going to have some really tough decisions ahead," he told council members.

Flores, the newly selected mayor pro tem, pointed out that the city now has five council members who have served as mayors.

As for another run at re-election in 2011, Armstrong says it's too far off. He admits others have asked him whether he will campaign again, but he likes to keep those plans close to the vest.

"I'll keep them guessing," he said after the meeting.

He then added: "There is a rumor I am using Clovis as a steppingstone" to higher office.