Councilor Jason Bolen announces resignation

By Sarah Brown

Lebanon Local

City Councilman Jason Bolen announced his resignation, effective April 14, after accepting a conditional job offer from the City of Bend for the position of Deputy Fire Chief of Prevention.

Bolen was elected to the City Council for Ward 3 in 2012, and will end his current term serving as council president. Mayor Paul Aziz said he will miss Bolen, who stood alongside him as they worked to make tough decisions and important improvements for the city.

“He brought a get-it-done attitude to council,” Aziz said. “Even when we completely disagreed on a subject, we were able to walk away from the meeting as friends.”

CITY CLERK Kim Scheafer swears in City Council members, including Bolen, who won seats in the November 2020 election.

Bolen said he’s learned more than he could imagine while he served on the city council about how government works, including how much time and effort it takes to initiate change.

“While it looked really easy from the outside, I learned first-hand how difficult it actually was from the inside,” Bolen said. “There were so many more moving parts and variables than I ever imagined, so I learned how to be flexible while still pushing for positive change.”

He noted that one of the more frustrating aspects of being a councilor was the amount of time the councilors spend clearing up misinformation and interacting with some in the public who either didn’t take the time to ask questions or didn’t want to hear the answer.

Most importantly I learned that no matter who you are, you can get involved and play a part in the success of your city or your community, and that’s a very rewarding feeling for me after 10 years on the city council,” he said.

Bolen stands with Lieutenant Brent Gaskey in the middle of a swampy “moonscape” of what remains in an area of Paradise, Calif. following the Camp Fire. Photo courtesy of LFD. File photo

Bolen, currently the Fire Marshal and Division Chief of Fire and Life Safety at the Lebanon Fire District, started as a volunteer fire fighter for Lebanon in 1994, and was hired as a firefighter/EMT-basic in 1996. He earned a Bachelor’s in Fire Service Administration, and graduated from paramedic school in 2004.

In 2005 Bolen was promoted to engineer/medic, then to Lieutenant in 2009, and to his current position in 2016. He said in an email that he’s really enjoyed working in Lebanon, and cherishes the moments that had positive outcomes.

I think what I enjoyed the most was talking with my patients when I worked on the ambulance as a medic,” he said. “Being able to put a patient at ease with a conversation or just being there for them to talk to was always special.”

Though some calls were traumatic or tragic, there were some calls where Bolen and his team took action and were able to change the patient’s outcome for the better, he said.

Those were probably the most special of all,” he said.

Bolen served on state committees that include the Governor’s Fire Service Policy Council, the Oregon Fire Code Advisory Board, and the Oregon Fire Code Committee. He was a past trustee, vice president and president of the Lebanon Professional Firefighter’s Union, Local 2163.

FIREFIGHTER Jason Bolen and his wife Kelsey discuss architectural styles of other fire stations and public buildings during a community meeting at the Lebanon Fire District station Oct. 2, 2018. File photo

He created the Lebanon Firefighter’s Holiday Food and Troy Drive, as well as the Lebanon Fire District’s Annual Back to School Traffic Safety Campaign. Bolen has been involved in the Lebanon Optimists Club, and volunteered for Riverview School, Lebanon High School, the Muscular Dystrophy Association and Boys & Girls Club of the Greater Santiam.

Bolen said he’s proud of the fire department’s accomplishments in recent years, including starting the life jacket program, installing thousands of smoke alarms, revamping the commercial inspection program, and educating students about fire safety.

Bolen married his wife, Kelsey, in 2005, and raised their girls here.

“The community of Lebanon and the fire district have given me everything that I cherish and am proud of in life: my career, my education, my volunteer and community service opportunities, and most importantly my wife and my girls,” Bolen said in a statement. “Leaving Lebanon will not be easy, but it will be a tremendous opportunity for our little family.”

Bolen will start his new position in Bend on May 16.

“To everyone who has been a part of my journey in the fire service, I say thank you,” he said. “I could never be where I am, or where I’m going, without your patience, guidance and encouragement.”