Wapato mayor demands thousands in backpay in letter to council members

WAPATO, Wash. - Nearly a year after agreeing to an annual salary of $1, Wapato Mayor Dora Alvarez-Roa is demanding she immediately be paid the thousands of dollars she would have made if she had kept the mayor's salary at $1,000 a month. 

In a letter sent to the Wapato City Council, Alvarez-Roa says that the council is withholding her pay for discriminatory reasons.

"As a senior citizen, Latina Mayor I am appalled at the level of trickery that the council is involved in," Alvarez-Roa said in the letter. "You have purposefully targeted a female person of color to take away her job."

Absent from the council's regular meeting Monday night, Alvarez-Roa gave the letter to council members to read aloud to attendees. 

Mayor Pro Tempore Keith Workman declined to read the letter at the meeting.

"If she wanted to read that, she could have shown up and read it," Workman said. "We're not going to entertain that."

Alvarez-Roa says in the letter that she's asked City Attorney Julie Norton to pay her on multiple occasions, but that she's refused and claims Norton has tried to tie a payout to her resignation as mayor. 

"This is a pattern and looks like [Norton] is playing politics instead of giving the city sound legal advice," Alvarez-Roa said in the letter. 

In the letter, Alvarez-Roa argues that the reduction in the mayor's salary — from $1,000 a month to $1 a year — was scheduled to begin in the next term. 

However, city minutes from the Nov. 6, 2018 meeting indicate that the salary change was made to specifically affect Alvarez-Roa's current term. 

After council member Ira Cantu motioned to make the mayor's salary $1 annually and council member Barbie Perez seconded the motion, Alvarez-Roa asked the council to approve the creation of an ordinance changing her salary to $1 per year, according to the minutes. 

"[Alvarez-Roa] is currently refusing a stipend for her position as Mayor, and considers it an honor and civic duty," the minutes said. 

The motion was passed with one dissenting vote by Workman.

At the Feb.5, 2019 council meeting, another motion was made to change the mayor's salary to $1 a year and passed unanimously, according to the meeting minutes.

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