Richland Mayor Michael Alvarez

Just months after he told the Tri-City Herald editorial board in an October interview that he was committed to Richland and would not run for another office if re-elected, Richland Mayor Michael Alvarez has begun his second campaign for Benton County commissioner.

During the interview, Alvarez’s opponent for Richland City Council Position 7, Kurt Maier, asked Alvarez repeatedly about his commitment to the city of Richland. Alvarez ran for Benton County Commission just two years after he was first elected to the Richland City Council in 2017.

Alvarez did not respond to Maier’s questions.

After retired Herald editor and publisher Jack Briggs also received no response to the same question, he said, “I don’t think I have a clear answer to my question. Do you have any aspirations in the foreseeable future for any other political job?”

Alveraz answered with one word, “No.”

The Herald endorsed Alvarez.

The Observer reached out to Alvarez to ask what he would say to the residents of Richland about running twice for county commission in just over four years.

He did not respond.

In 2020, Alvarez, who owns a mortgage company, ran for Benton County Commission District 1, which includes most of Richland. His largely self-funded campaign ended with the primary, coming in third behind Democrat Justin Raffa and incumbent Republican Jerome Delvin.

New district boundaries created after the 2020 Census put Alvarez’s neighborhood in District 2, which also includes the largely rural western part of the county including Prosser. This year, he is running to represent that district.

The Richland City Council position is a part-time job. The salary for the mayor is about $16,000 a year, but benefits can double that. 

In 2019, with salary and benefits, Alvarez received $34,862 and was the second highest compensated member of the council at that time. His most recent PDC financial report shows his council income in the range of zero to $29,999. 

The county commission is considered a full-time job that pays over $100,000 a year, not including benefits.

Alvarez announced his intentions to raise money for a campaign by filing with the Washington Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) on May 4. He has not listed any contributions or expenditures thus far. 

Three other candidates have also filed with the PDC for the District 2 seat: former state Rep. Bill Jenkin of Prosser, who has raised $3,850; Kennewick police detective and Fraternal Order of Police president Marco Monteblanco of Richland, who has raised $1,898; and Benton PUD District 3 Commissioner Barry Bush of Kennewick, who lists no contributions.

All are running as Republicans.

To make his candidacy official, Alvarez must also file with the Benton County Auditor’s Office the week of May 16 through May 20. More candidates could also announce campaigns during that period.