Jefferson Parish President Mike Yenni has always defended his legal name change as a personal way to honor his family roots.
But Yenni's decision to assume his mother's family name following his parents' divorce in the late 1990s has also carried a whiff of political ambition, given that his grandfather Joe Yenni and uncle, also named Mike, were both beloved parish presidents, a job the current Mike Yenni won last fall.
Whatever his reasons back then, Yenni might want to give some thought to how to honor the family's legacy of service to the parish now. Because make no mistake, his determination to keep his job is all about him.
Jefferson Parish President Mike Yenni is digging in for a fight, announcing Monday that he w…
Yenni has no prominent allies in his quest to hold on, despite revelations by WWL-TV that the FBI is looking into sexually explicit texts he'd sent to a teenager while he was Kenner mayor, and despite his own eventual vague, videotaped admission. The entire parish council has called on him to step aside, as have Sheriff Newell Normand, Assessor Tom Capella, Clerk of Court Jon Gegenheimer and Coroner Gerry Cvitanovich. Catholic school officials don't want Yenni on their campuses, and the parish's public schools are considering banning him as well. There has been no visible groundswell among constituents on his behalf.
Yet Yenni insists he can do the job anyway, and in a way, that's true. There's nothing here that would keep him from performing his duties, or from running a competent administration. Nor does his behavior reflect on the work of his staff.
The FBI has been looking into allegations that Jefferson Parish President Mike Yenni sent se…
But the position entails more than that. To do it well, a parish president needs relationships. He needs to be able to go out in public and talk to constituents and the press, without ducking questions. He needs to be widely accepted as a leader.
Yenni can say the matter is personal, but the personal and political are deeply intertwined. Sometimes that helps a politician, as Yenni should know from watching the power of his own adopted name. Sometimes that hurts, as he's learned during this painful stretch. But almost always, a politician's true colors come out when he has to choose between his own agenda — personal, political, or some combination of the two — and what's best for the people he serves.