Jefferson Parish president candidates Mike Yenni, Elton Lagasse schedule second debate in Gretna _lowres

Advocate staff photo by SUSAN BROADBRIDGE-- Michael S. Yenni takes the oath of office for a second term as Kenner Mayor during an inauguration ceremony at the Pontchartrain Center in Kenner, La. Tuesday, July 1, 2014. Yenni was elected on Saturday to become the next president of Jefferson Parish in January.

On the eve of his inauguration as Jefferson Parish president, Mike Yenni on Tuesday named seven people to direct eight departments that have been headed by others under outgoing President John Young.

Three of the directors being replaced by Yenni will return to civil service jobs they held previously with the parish, another will transfer to the Parish Attorney’s Office and four will leave Jefferson’s government, according to officials.

All of the appointments are considered provisional until the Parish Council ratifies them, which is expected to happen later this month.

Three of the new directors have been working in Kenner alongside Yenni, who’s been mayor there since 2010. He will resign from that post at 9:59 a.m. Wednesday to be sworn in minutes later as parish president during a ceremony at the Jefferson Performing Arts Center in Metairie.

Aimee Vallot, Kenner’s director of property inspections and code enforcement for the past two years, will work in a similar capacity for the parish, replacing Tiffany Scot Wilken, who is transferring to the Parish Attorney’s Office.

Tamithia Shaw, who has been the clerk of Kenner’s municipal court since August 2014 and previously served as the city’s code director, will head the parish’s Community Development Department. She will replace Detrich Hebert Johnson, who is resigning.

Victor LaRocca, an assistant finance director for Kenner since June 2006, will replace Antoinette Scott as parish budget director. Scott will stay with the parish as a civil service accountant.

Vallot’s spot in Kenner is expected to be filled by Stephen Petit, who once ran for a local judgeship and who filed a high-profile lawsuit unsuccessfully seeking to disqualify Parish Councilman Chris Roberts from running for re-election in the fall.

Two more of the new directors have recently worked for New Orleans, and another is a veteran of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office.

Joseph Valiente will become the parish’s emergency management director after commanding the New Orleans Police Department section in charge of special events, including large-scale ones such as Mardi Gras and the Super Bowl, from 1999 to 2012. Valiente, who’s been running a security consulting firm since 2013, frequently earned praise in his role with the NOPD, but he was scrutinized by watchdogs for assigning himself and two subordinates to work paid details at most of the events before federal court-mandated reforms altered the NOPD’s paid detail system.

He will replace Charlie Hudson, who will return to a civil service position as an emergency management coordinator.

Sharon Leader will take over as the parish’s transit director after spending the past year as a disaster recovery analyst for New Orleans. Leader, who formerly ran a transportation consulting firm for about 23 years, will replace Ryan Brown, who is leaving parish employment.

Lt. Gary Hargroder will be both the parish’s security director and its blight eradication director after serving as the deputy commander of a Metairie-based district for the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office since 2002. He will replace both ex-security director John Miller and former blight eradication director Nicole Amstutz, who are each resigning from the parish.

Mike Lockwood will oversee environmental affairs for the parish after three decades of experience as a senior environmental scientist, most recently with Hartman Engineering, which often contracts with Kenner and Jefferson. Lockwood will replace Marnie Winter, who will return to a civil service position as assistant environmental affairs director.

More than 30 other department heads will remain in place. But Yenni’s staff said all parish employees will be subject to a six-month probationary period and more changes could be made.

The displaced directors earned between $59,000 and $133,000 last year. Salary information for the new directors wasn’t available Tuesday.

The new directors will be working alongside a staff of executive appointees, announced last month, who don’t require council approval. Some are holdovers from Young’s administration; others are newcomers with connections to Kenner, such as Keith Conley, tapped to be Yenni’s top aide.

Conley — whose resignation from the Kenner City Council takes effect Wednesday — will succeed Jacques Molaison as the parish’s chief operating officer. Molaison will transfer to the Parish Attorney’s Office, which will be headed by outgoing Kenner City Attorney Mike Power, officials said.

Yenni won a four-way election in October to succeed Young, who ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor.


CORRECTION: This story originally said that Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office veteran Gary Hargroder was replacing the parish’s former security director, but it inadvertently neglected to mention that he was also assuming the duties of the former blight eradication director and replacing her. Further, the story said Charlie Hudson was moving from emergency management director to an assistant emergency management director, but his new title will actually be emergency management coordinator. This story has been corrected to reflect that information.