CLOVIS CITY COUNCIL 2022
FPPC 1386533 DREW BESSINGER FOR CLOVIS CITY COUNCIL 2022
I am seeking re-election to your Clovis City Council on November 8th, 2022. I was re-elected in March 2019 and served as your Mayor during the first year of the pandemic. Our City election cycle has changed from March to November, with the first election being this November 8th. I have been a public servant since 1975 when I joined the US Army at the age of 18. After being Honorably Discharged, I spent the next 42 years as a law enforcement officer for Federal, State and seven local cities from the rank of police officer to police chief, including 22 years at the Clovis Police Department, retiring in 2009 as a Police Captain. I was appointed to the Personnel Commission in 2012, and I was elected to council in 2017. I served as Mayor during the first year of the pandemic. I worked to protect the safety and health of Clovis. The City of Clovis did an outstanding job working with healthcare providers and partnering on numerous drive-through testing sites. We delivered meals to our seniors who were sheltering at home. Clovis had the lowest Covid rates in the county, lower than cities 1/10th our size. The unintended consequences of the Governors orders picked “winners and losers” where large corporate stores remained open and small businesses were shuttered. We refused to target our small businesses that took reasonable precautions and reopened. The Governor was being lobbied to prohibit gun and ammunition sales under the pandemic emergency order; I lobbied him directly to protect the rights of citizens to purchase guns and ammunition. I directly lobbied state agencies to permit the reopening our restaurants, barbers and hairdressers, and small “non-essential” businesses that were on the verge of insolvency. We broke ground on a new fire station, senior center and transit center during my tenure. We are rebuilding the fire station at Minnewawa and Santa Ana. SW Clovis has a special place in my heart. It’s where my wife was raised, where my mother-in-law still lives, and where I spent most of my time on patrol working for your police department. I directed staff to work with FID to create walking/biking paths along canals in southwest Clovis, with one breaking ground soon. My vision is for our seniors and families to walk these paths, and our children to ride their bikes and walk to school.
We hired additional officers and fire fighters. Clovis is still the safest city in the valley, but we need to continue increasing the number of officers. Please vote “YES” on the ballot measure to increase the hotel tax; that will go towards our police department.
A career in public service:
I 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 recently left my employment as the Airport 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. He 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 obtained the breadth of professional certificates from the Commission on Police Officers Standards and Training (POST) from the Basic Certificate to the Executive Certificate.
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. When the British overran the camp, Stalag 10B, on April 29, 1945 it was strewn with corpses and the diseased on the brink of death. I have been to my dad’s camp 4 times, the latest being this past April. There are several mass graves simply marked “2500 Ukrainians” or other similar markings. The number of people who died there is unknown since the Nazi’s did not consider the Russians as human beings and simply shot them or worked them to death. After his liberation and return to the US, Dad went to college on his GI bill and became a teacher (and taught in special education for several years) because he promised God while in the camp that he would do something good with his life if he was spared. My Dad died when I was 13, and if I had a pocket full of wishes I would want to ask about this chapter of his life. If you’re interested in more about Dad, see http://www.fresnobee.com/news/local/article22144803.html. I am a nationally published author in several professional law enforcement periodicals. In 1995, my article “Using the Civil Eviction Process to Prevent Crime” was published in several national periodicals, including Police Chief Magazine. In 2021, my article “The Role of an Interim Police Chief” was published in Police Chief Magazine and is also part of the reading list in the University of San Diego Public Administration Masters Course. https://www.policechiefmagazine.org/the-role-of-an-interim-police-chief.
My wife, Yvonne Avila-Bessinger, has lived in Clovis for over 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 former football coach at Buchanan High School. Chris’ wife, Rachelle, works for Fresno Community Medical Center, and Clovis residents. My granddaughters, Blake and Harper, attend Clovis schools, and my new grandson Hendrik Drew will follow them soon.
Clovis is a special place to live and work. Through the efforts of both public and private employers, we have an unemployment rate lower than state or national averages. Our businesses were able to weather the pandemic and come out safely on the other side because we supported them and refused to micromanagement anyone conducting their businesses reasonably. Clovis has become a 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, United Health Center and a planned Veterans Affairs clinic will offer a variety of health care options to Clovis citizens and those of our region. The California Health Sciences University is now open and training future doctors … right here in Clovis. A collaborative effort between Clovis Unified, Clovis Community College, Fresno State and CHSU means that our children won’t have to leave home to get a premier education in the health field and career opportunities that pay well. Instead of losing our best and brightest to the Bay Area or LA, they can stay right here.
Clovis continues to be a place where people want to live. Our trail system and planned communities create a connected and vibrant community feel. Our Old Town area hosts regional events, like the Clovis Rodeo, Big Hat Days and Clovis Fest that draw thousands to our downtown area. Our excellent school system and our reputation for being a great community to live in and raise a family continues to draw folks of all backgrounds wanting a better life. Clovis continues to be the safest city in the valley due to a responsible citizenry and 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.
I am honored to have the endorsement of Congresswoman Connie Conway, Assemblyman Jim Patterson, Sheriff Margaret Mims, Supervisor Nathan Magsig, Clovis Mayor Jose Flores and Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer, and other community leaders and groups. Please see the Endorsements tab for a list.
There is much more to do … there always is. Excellence does not happen by chance, it takes vision and planning … lots and lots of planning. My main goal as your Councilmember is to keep Clovis the safest and cleanest community in California. 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.
I have a proven track record of public service and a commitment to your safety. I would be honored to have your vote November 8th.
You can also check out my Facebook page @drew4clovis17.