When Kenner Mayor Mike Yenni takes office next month as Jefferson Parish president, two well-known former officials and several current Kenner bureaucrats will be part of his administration.
Meanwhile, the Kenner City Council is scheduled to vote this week on a plan that would let members Michael Sigur and Dominick Impastato each serve stints as Yenni’s interim replacement before a new mayor is elected next year.
Yenni announced Monday he has appointed former Jefferson Parish Schools Superintendent Diane Roussel to head the parish’s Human Resources Department and the library system. Steve Caraway, who retired as Kenner’s top cop last year, will take over as director of the Emergency Management Department.
Yenni also has named several of his top Kenner staffers to jobs in the new administration. Kenner’s deputy chief administrative officer, Natalie Newton, will serve in a similar role at the parish, as will the director of information technology and telecommunications, Valerie Waguespack Brolin.
Yenni also will ask the Parish Council to approve hiring Kenner City Attorney Mike Power as parish attorney, reporting to both Yenni and the council.
But the new president isn’t completely cleaning house.
Among those he plans to keep from President John Young’s administration are Director of Finance Timothy Palmatier, Public Works Director Kazem Alikhani, Public Information Officer Kriss Fortunato and Chief Administrative Assistants Royce Blanchard and Darryl Ward.
“This is a strong collection of talented professionals who will guide and promote Jefferson Parish,” Yenni said. “I appreciate their dedication to public service, and I look forward to employing their collective tenacious spirit.”
Yenni has yet to say whom he will hire as chief operating officer. But many political observers in Jefferson speculate Kenner Councilman Keith Conley — who previously served as Kenner’s city attorney and has been one of the mayor’s leading supporters — could soon step down from that post to become Yenni’s top aide.
Both Yenni and Conley have declined to address that speculation.
The 39-year-old Yenni, who has been Kenner’s mayor since 2010, defeated four opponents Oct. 24 to win the right to succeed Young, who passed up another term as parish president to run unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor.
By law, Kenner’s City Council president will serve as interim mayor after Yenni resigns.
The council on Thursday is set to consider appointing Sigur as the panel’s president beginning in January, when Gregory Carroll’s six-month term expires. That would make him interim mayor for six months.
A separate measure up for consideration Thursday would name Impastato as vice president, in line to become council president and interim mayor beginning in July.
It is expected that Yenni’s permanent replacement will be elected late next year. Neither Sigur nor Impastato are expected to run in that race after their interim terms.
CORRECTION: This story originally said that neither Sigur nor Impastato would be able to run in the mayoral election expected to be held in Kenner late next year after they serve interim terms as mayor. There is nothing in Kenner’s charter stopping them from running for mayor; but neither is expected to participate in that race due to an informal agreement among city leaders that no council member chosen to serve as interim mayor will run to fill that office on a permanent basis in an immediately following election.