For almost 24 hours after Umatilla voters gave Karen Steen a lead in the race for the citys new mayor, the candidate mostly unknown at the beginning of the race was flooded with phone calls, congratulations and positive feedback.
Ive been very busy. I dont think the phone has stopped ringing, Steen said Wednesday. Im just delighted.
A four-year resident of Umatilla, Steen faced business owner and councilman Daren Dufloth in the election. At the end of the night, Steen garnered 397 votes and Dufloth received 192 votes, a difference of about 66 percent to 32 percent, according to unofficial results from Umatilla County Elections.
On the morning following the election, Steen had already spoken with new Umatilla City Manager Bob Ward, officials at Two Rivers Correctional Institution and the citys Code Improvement Board, as well as Umatilla City Council members and other residents.
I want to get a head start before Im sworn in on (Jan. 1), she said. Its really wonderful to see the momentum. I think that 40 years ago when the Corps of Engineers took away our old town site, it was a big loss. For 40 years, Umatilla has had to endure a real decline, and I think this is the point that changes. I think the future is bright. I think my challenge, and the challenge of council, is to harness that momentum.
The mayors position opened earlier this year when former mayor David Trott resigned to apply for the vacant city manager position. Since that time, Councilman Bill Meade has served as mayor pro tem. With 54.7 percent and 43.56 percent of the vote, respectively, Meade and fellow incumbent Cindy Roxbury, will both return to council. A newcomer, Lyle Smith, will fill council seat 5.