To the community of the San Juan Islands from Jason Hensel

by Jason Hensel

Orcas Island

As you may know, I am no longer the Building Official for San Juan County.

I would like to take a moment to clear the air and dispel any rumors about my departure and to thank all of my supporters, all of whom have shared my disbelief about the situation.

I should start off by saying this community feels more like a family than any other place I’ve lived and how proud I am to be part of it. My wife Crys and I lived in Bothell, Washington nearly 30 years ago. We honeymooned on Orcas and always wanted to come back to the islands.

Almost 14 years ago we had the opportunity to move here as I became the building inspector and worked my way up to be the Building Official for San Juan County.

I have had the chance to meet some amazing people here and help them on their journey in their building adventure. I enjoyed helping others and sharing my knowledge of the building codes. After 11 years as a building inspector, I was asked to become the Building Official because of my fair and reasonable manner. I believe that by teaching and helping others, we are all better for it and when our buildings are safer it helps everyone. I believe my time here has helped the community, other county staff, and many local contractors. It’s what drove me to succeed here.

The Building Official serves at the whim of the Director of DCD. The position is ‘At-Will’ which means they can let you go for any reason or no reason at all. I knew this and accepted it as a condition of the job offer. I fully understood the ramifications that my job security was not protected by the union. However, there was no discussion, no reason given, no explanation offered. While perfectly within their rights to do so, the Management lost a dedicated professional at a time when it is greatly needed. It was as if nearly 14 years of dedication and hard work counted for nothing, not even a thank you.

To quell any rumors, there was no impropriety, no performance issues, or anything of that nature. The only thing said was, “We are going in a different direction” from the people in charge.

After separating from the county, and dealing with the shock of it all, it was heartwarming to see the level of support I have been given. So many people are genuinely interested in how we are doing, and are just as thoroughly confused as to why this happened.

We plan on staying on Orcas and will explore our opportunities in this wonderful island family. I leave with my dignity and knowledge that I did my best, and that I was a positive force for our community.

My wife and I thank you all very much for your support. We look forward to seeing you around.