The Clovis City Council added two new members for the first time in 16 years Monday night.
In addition, the last new member to join the council 14 years ago, Bob Whalen, was named mayor by fellow council members in the regular two-year rotation.
Vong Mouanoutoua, a former planning commissioner who ran unopposed, and Drew Bessinger, a retired Clovis police captain, won seats March 7. Bessinger defeated Paul Soares, a newcomer to Clovis city elections.
The new members gave their oath of office Monday during a special meeting. Whalen said residents shouldn’t worry about Clovis being changed under his direction because he wants only to build on its foundations.
“We will do our best to honor the trust that you’ve place in us,” he said. “If you ever find we’re not doing that, there’s a podium with a microphone on it, and any council meeting you just come and tell us we’re going in the wrong direction.”
Whalen said he welcomes community feedback. “I want you to know you’ll be listened to.”
Mouanoutoua , 46, is the first Clovis City Council member of Hmong descent. He was born in Laos and his family moved to America when he was 5 years old.
Bessinger, 60, replaces longtime Councilman Harry Armstrong, who resigned in October because of health issues. Armstrong, 86, was on the council for 46 years, among California’s longest-serving city council members.
Bessinger must run again in 2019, when the seats of Whalen and Council Member Jose Flores also expire.
Also sworn in Monday night was unopposed incumbent Lynne Ashbeck, 62, who earned her fifth four-year term on the council.
When the election was certified, the final results showed Bessinger had 67 percent of the vote and Soares 30.5 percent. A third candidate, Aaronjack Perry, who didn’t actively campaign, brought in 2.4 percent.
The March 7 election was the first time Clovis ran a city council election since 2009.
After Armstrong retired, City Council Member Nathan Magsig was sworn in as a Fresno County supervisor in January, leaving the council with three members. The new members will return the council to a full roster for the first time since October.
In 2001, Ashbeck and Magsig were elected as new members to the council, the last time two new members were added.
City Council members earn about $15,468 per year. They will soon get a raise to $16,404 per year.