Jim Hensley, former Port Hueneme City Councilman and social and environmental advocate, died Monday, July 8, with his son Greg and daughter-in-law Jolinn at his side. Hensley was well-known in the local community for his diehard persistence in searching for truth and understanding, sometimes in ways that were not well received though many admired his tenacity. During his tenure on City Council, he helped pave the way to access to recreational cannabis, second city to Ojai to do so in Ventura County. — Michael Sullivan
Following his death, the community shared their thoughts on knowing Jim Hensley:
I worked with Jim for many years in various elections, as he was an active member of the Greater Oxnard Organization of Democrats. Jim was a well-known advocate for Democratic Candidates. In 2004, he and one employee of Lois Capps ran the entire Democratic election effort out of an office in Port Hueneme’s Moll Plaza. I worked with him and that is when we became friends.
In addition, before moving to Port Hueneme, he lived on Silver Strand beach, and worked tirelessly for protection of public access to Channel Islands Harbor rather than allow developers to use all the land for private development. He pushed hard to re-open La Janelle Beach, an easily accessible beach for pedestrians and vehicles, closed by the harbor, which claimed safety issues.
Jim was a dedicated supporter of the military, having served many years as a telephone lineman in Alaska for the U.S. Army. He also was a businessman, having spent many years in the asphalt paving business with his son, Greg, who lives locally with his wife and Greg’s adopted, disabled son.
Jim also had a daughter, Tammy (deceased) who had been homeless. Jim worked tirelessly to try to arrange housing for her, but she was resistant, and each time she was housed, she would run away. Her refusal to get treatment for her health problems eventually caught up with her. There is another son, I believe, who lives out of state.
Jim’s pride and joy was his parrot, Wally, whom he rescued from a woman who could not manage him and kept him in a closet. Jim socialized him and Wally came to be the main attraction in his home.
I knew Jim for approximately 20 years. I worked with him on community issues when I worked in supervisor Flynn’s office and when we were on several boards together, specifically Port Hueneme water agency, Ventura Regional Sanitation District, Channel Islands Beach Community services district. Jim cared very much about people and worked very hard for their benefit.
He also believed in efficiency in government. His philosophy was the more efficient in the use of funds the better the benefits would improve the lives of people.
He was a good friend and will be missed.
I met Jim while attending Rio School Board meetings in the late 1990s later at Oxnard City Council meetings and finally we both served on the Ventura Regional Sanitation District Board as representatives for each of our elected City Councils.
He was a no-nonsense guy questioning the expenditure of public resources to gain maximum value of the public’ purse. I felt he was an asset to serve the public and his City well while in the position, often complete stories and facts never see the light of day.
A side note, he often presented himself at local City government meetings advocating to “WATER PROOF CHILDREN” via swimming lessons for kids and the hopped for expansion of public swimming pools.
He will be missed.
Bert E. Perello
Oxnard City Councilmember
People may not have agreed with him always, but one had to admire that he would fight for what he believed in. Many years of public service. God bless his family at this time.
I had the pleasure of knowing Jim Hensley for 20 some years. Be it through his City Council position, the League of United Latin American Citizens or his person, Jim always wanted to empower those who needed strength and improve our community. Jim has left the world better. He will be missed.