Daren Dufloth is the new mayor of Umatilla.

Dufloth was unanimously appointed by the city council Tuesday night after David Trott resigned in March, and immediately took up the gavel to run the rest of the meeting.

“This is really exciting,” Dufloth said at the end of the meeting. “We’re at the tipping point for some really good things.”

Dufloth has lived in the community for 19 years and owns the Riverside Sports Bar and Grill in Umatilla, a local strip club. He is a former city councilor, Umatilla High School sports booster and has volunteered with a variety of sports organizations, including Little League and Babe Ruth baseball.

During a question and answer portion between Dufloth and fellow candidate Lyle Smith, Dufloth said Umatilla’s greatest asset is its approachable and open residents, followed by its prime location along the Columbia River.

“We have a lot to offer to the area, we just have to polish the jewel off, so to speak,” he said.

Dufloth agreed with a previous answer by Smith that one of Umatilla’s greatest challenges is getting more people involved in the city, and added that the city needed to create trust and buy-in from its residents by taking a “5,000 foot view” in planning for the city’s future.

Smith, who is also a former city councilor, told the council before their vote that he would “absolutely” be willing to run for one of the two council positions declared vacant Tuesday. He also praised Dufloth and said he wouldn’t want to see councilors vote for Smith only out of a concern that there might be “outcry” from the community over the fact that the Dufloth owns an establishment that includes a strip club.

If councilors were concerned about that, it wasn’t reflected in their 5-0 vote.

On Tuesday the council was missing David Lougee, who resigned in April citing “personal and health reasons.” Council president Mary Dedrick also stepped down at the end of the meeting.

Dedrick said the top thing that people always tell her the city needs is downtown revitalization, but she had seen “a lot of things I really had to think about.”

“I find it hard to represent the community with so many questions going unanswered and things taking so long,” she said. “I just felt the thing the community elected me to do was out of my control. It wasn’t getting done.”

She said after a lot of thought she felt it was best to resign and focus on helping revitalize Umatilla through other channels.

The city is taking applications for both open positions, and will hold public interviews and fill both seats during their June 6 meeting.

During staff reports, city manager Russ Pelleberg said graduate students from Portland State University continue to work on a downtown revitalization plan for the city, and held a “very successful” mixer to get to know local business owners, and were also making efforts to reach out to the city’s Latino community.

He gave an update on the Downtown Discovery project he and councilor Mark Ribich have undertaken, and said they have met with several downtown business owners so far and received completed surveys from others. The project is focused on what downtown stakeholders’ plans are for their businesses and properties, and how the city can help.

— Contact Jade McDowell at jmcdowell@eastoregonian.com or 541-564-4536.

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