Update: Jan. 3, Richland issued a press release today that said the council would interview Griggs, Griffith, Rice and Whitten on Friday.
On Friday the Richland City Council emailed their decision on interviews to the 10 Richland citizens who applied for the council’s soon-to-be vacant seat. The Observer reached out to each of the 10 to see who is in and who is out.
Andrew Rice received an invitation to interview Jan. 6, he told the Observer in a phone call. Ben Griggs, Eileen Griffith and Ryan Whitten did not return calls, so their status is unknown. Based on the process that the council followed in filling former City Councilmember Phil Lemley’s seat in June, at least two of those will likely be interviewed.
The other six applicants — Courtland Frauenkron, Roni Gunnoe, Justin Raffa, Carl Sarrazolla, Todd Shephard and Clancy Waldron — told the Observer that they were not invited to interview.
Rice, who has lived in north Richland for 2 ½ years, said he was looking forward to meeting with the council. He is a chemical operations supervisor at the Columbia Generating Station. His son-in-law, Eric Eisinger, was recently elected Benton County prosecutor.
Griggs has lived in Meadow Springs for 6 years, a few doors from Alvarez and recently appointed Councilmember Shayne VanDyke. He is a civil engineer who manages large international projects at Pacific Northwest National Laboratories. He ran unsuccessfully for Richland School Board in 2022.
Eileen Griffith has lived in Horn Rapids for 10 years. She has a MBA and has been director of wealth management at Gesa Credit Union. Currently she writes articles about public policy for Heartland Daily News.
Ryan Whitten is an instrument and control technician at Columbia Generating Station who has lived in Richland for 6 years and most recently in central Richland.
The council seat becomes vacant on Jan. 3 when Mayor Michael Alvarez is sworn in as a Benton County Commissioner. The Richland City Charter does not allow a councilmember to hold two elected positions. Alvarez was elected to the commission in November. By avoiding a gap in service between the two positions, Alvarez continues his health insurance and other taxpayer provided benefits without interruption.
The council will interview the chosen applicants starting at 1:00 pm on Jan. 6 in the Richland City Council Chamber. The public is invited. The interviews can be seen live on Channel 192 or streamed from Richland City View. The meeting will also be taped and available for viewing on Richland City View.