CLOVIS CITY COUNCIL
I shall be seeking re-election to your Clovis City Council in November 2022. I was re-elected in March 2019. Our City election cycle will be changing to November, the first election being November 2022. I am honored and privileged to be the Mayor of the City of Clovis.
I have served the public in many roles, beginning in 1975 when I joined the United States Army as a Military Police Officer. I was Honorably Discharged as a Sergeant (E-5) in 1979, and I began my civilian law enforcement career with the Department of Defense Police at Fort Belvoir, VA. I moved to California in 1980, and worked as a Police Officer with the Santa Barbara Police Department from 1980-1984.
Due to the cost of living, I relocated my family to Clovis in 1984 and began employment at California State University-Fresno as a Police Officer. I was hired as a Police Officer with the Clovis Police Department in 1987. During my 22 years of service with the Clovis Police Department, I served as a Detective, SWAT team member, Sergeant, Internal Affairs investigator, and Watch Commander before retiring as a Police Captain in 2009. In 2013, I was appointed to the City of Clovis Personnel Commission, where I served until just prior to my election in 2017.
After my retirement from the Clovis Police Department, I began a second career as a Police Chief for several Central Valley communities. I am currently the Police Chief at the Fresno Yosemite International Airport. I have been the interim Police Chief for the cities of Kingsburg, Parlier and Fowler in Fresno County, and Atwater in Merced County over the last few years.
Part of my role at the airport required me to be trained as an Aircraft Rescue Fire Fighter. I joined my great grandfather, Andrew Bessinger, in the profession. “Big Andy” emigrated from Germany in 1850, served in the 1st New Jersey Regiment during the Civil War, and was a fireman in Newark, NJ until his death in 1904.
I am also a board member of the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District, an organization that is doing excellent work improving the air quality in our region.I enlisted in the US Army right after high school, and I used my GI Bill benefits to attend school at both Santa Barbara City College and Fresno State. I attended school part time, while working full time as a police officer and raising my young sons as a single parent. It was very difficult to juggle all my priorities, but education is one of the keys to future success in life. I am a graduate of Fresno State’s School of Social Science with a BA in Public Administration, and I am actively involved in Fresno State’s veteran’s outreach programs.
I have been an instructor of Community Policing and Juvenile Law at the State Center Police Academy for over 20 years. I followed my father, Frank Bessinger, into the teaching profession. My dad was wounded and captured in the Battle of the Bulge in January 1945 and held as a POW until late April 1945. Dad became a teacher (and taught in special education for several years) when he got home, because he promised God he would do something good with his life if he was spared.
My wife, Yvonne Avila-Bessinger, has lived in Clovis for almost 60 years, is a Clovis High grad, and a long-time volunteer at Clovis Community Medical Center. My sons, Derek and Christopher, were K-12 Clovis Unified students, and were members of 2 Valley Championship Football teams at Clovis High. Chris is a local businessman, and is also a varsity football coach at Buchanan High School. Chris’ wife, Rachelle, works for Fresno Community Medical Center, and both are Clovis residents. My granddaughters, Blake and Harper, will also be attending Clovis schools very soon.
Clovis is a special place to live and work. Through the efforts of both public and private employers, we have an unemployment rate of only 3.8%, which is lower than both the statewide and national rates. Clovis is becoming the hub for medical services in Central California, showcased by the growth of Clovis Community Medical Center’s campus and it’s new Cancer Center. The addition of clinics from St. Agnes, Valley Children’s, and a planned Veterans Affairs clinic offers a variety of health care options to our citizens. The California Health Sciences University broke ground last year, and will be enrolling it’s first class of medical students soon. This new medical school joins CHSU’s School of Pharmacy, and will be located on the new CHSU campus on Alluvial and Temperance Avenues. A collaborative effort between Clovis Unified, Clovis Community College, Fresno State and CHSU means that our children won’t have to leave the valley to get a premier education in the health field, and other employment opportunities.
Clovis continues to be a place where people want to live. Our trail system and planned communities create a connected and vibrant community. Our Old Town area hosts regional events, like the Clovis Rodeo, Big Hat Days and Clovis Fest that draw thousands to our downtown area. Almost 1,100 new residences were established last year, drawn by our excellent school system and our reputation for being a great community to live in and raise a family. Clovis continues to be the safest city in the valley, due to the dedication of the men and women of the Clovis Police Department. Our Clovis Fire Department is one of the few nationally accredited fire departments in the State of California. Our parks are clean and modern, and all of our employees care deeply about the citizens they serve. I am proud of the culture of excellence that is deeply instilled in all of the dedicated employees of the City of Clovis.
There is more to do. Excellence does not happen by chance, it takes vision and planning … lots and lots of planning. My main goal as your Council member is to keep Clovis the safest community in our region. We need to continue our growth, but not grow so fast that we outpace our ability to serve all of our citizens. We also need to create an environment that attracts business so Clovis is not just a bedroom community for Fresno. We need to do all of this, while keeping our “small town” feel that has made Clovis the special place that it truly is.
As the election approaches, I will update my website to reflect the most current information. Until then, your City Council appreciates your support and values your input. Come see us the first 3 Mondays of each month a 6PM for our (your) City Council meetings.
You can also check out my Facebook page @drew4clovis17.