Three of Jefferson Parish’s most prominent politicos on Tuesday morning filed their qualifying paperwork to seek higher office during the Oct. 24 primary.
Kenner Mayor Mike Yenni, 39, and three-term Jefferson Parish Councilman Elton Lagasse, 75, each signed up for the parish president’s race, as has long been expected. They are seeking to succeed Parish President John Young, who signed up for the lieutenant governor’s race.
Yenni and Lagasse have been campaigning to become the next parish president since the spring, and Young began campaigning for lieutenant governor last year. Yet each of the candidates took time Tuesday to again discuss what they believed made them the right man for the office they were seeking.
Yenni, the mayor of Kenner since 2010, said he’s managed to excise $8.5 million out of his city’s budget and eliminate 135 government positions his administration considered surplus. Yet Kenner remains the sixth-largest city in Louisiana, he said.
“I have learned how to do more with less,” and that’s what voters want, said Yenni, who added that he would prioritize public safety and improvements in education to attract young families to Jefferson Parish.
Lagasse for his part touted his lengthy tenure as an elected leader in Jefferson. He’s been on the Parish Council since 2004, was superintendent of Jefferson’s public schools for nine years and also served on the School Board.
“The key to this thing is leadership,” Lagasse said. “I’ve been doing (that) for many years.”
Meanwhile, in a written statement announcing a second television ad campaign, Young expressed a desire to partner with the public to promote tourism across Louisiana. He also said he hoped to use his prior experience as a prosecutor in the Jefferson Parish District Attorney’s Office to “reduce crime and keep our families and visitors safe.”
Yenni, Lagasse and Young are all Republicans.
Signing up to join Yenni and Lagasse in the race to replace Young was Jefferson Parish Council and Kenner City Council gadfly Al Morella as well as Robin Daldegan Christiana, who resigned as Lagasse’s administrative assistant in February.
Morella, a 69-year-old Kenner resident, regularly attends local public meetings and harshly criticizes elected officials at them. He ran against Yenni when the mayor easily won his second four-year term in 2014 and captured 617 of the 8,344 votes cast in that election.
Christiana, a 48-year-old Republican, became Lagasse’s West Bank-focused administrative assistant in 2011 after working for him as clerk and secretary.
Other Jefferson Parish offices that candidates had signed up for on Tuesday include:
— Sheriff: Incumbent Newell Normand, Republican
— Clerk of Court: Incumbent Jon Gegenheimer of Gretna, Republican
— Assessor: Incumbent Tom Capella of Metairie, Republican
— Coroner: Incumbent Gerry Cvitanovich of Metairie, Republican
— Council at Large, Division A: Challenger Jimmy Lawson of Gretna, Democrat, a former parish councilman. Incumbent Chris Roberts did not officially sign up to seek re-election on Tuesday, but he has said he intends to run for his office again on Oct. 24.
— Council at Large, Division B: District 5 Councilwoman Cynthia Lee-Sheng of Metairie, Republican
— Council District 1: Incumbent Ricky Templet of Gretna, Republican
— Council District 2: Incumbent Paul Johnston of Harahan, Republican; challenger Michael O’Brien of Harahan, Republican and West Bank businessman
— Council District 3: Incumbent Mark Spears of Marrero, Democrat
— Council District 4: Incumbent Ben Zahn of Kenner, Republican
— Council District 5: Former interim Parish Councilman Mike Thomas of Metairie, Republican; Jennifer Van Vrancken of Metairie, Republican, the former No. 2 in Young’s parish presidency administration
Those also seeking re-election include state Sen. John Alario, R-Westwego; state Sen. Danny Martiny, R-Metairie; state Sen. Conrad Appel, R-Metairie; state Rep. Julie Stokes, R-Kenner; state Rep. Joseph Lopinto III, R-Metairie; state Rep. J. Cameron Henry, R-Metairie; state Rep. Robert Billiot, D-Westwego; state Rep. Patrick Connick, R-Harvey; state Rep. Bryan Adams, R-Terrytown; state Rep. Tom Willmott, R-Kenner; and state Rep. Kirk Talbot, R-River Ridge.
Signing up to compete for the seat held by state Rep. Ebony Woodruff, D-Terrytown, was Rodney Lyons Sr., a Democrat from Harvey who retired as a Jefferson Parish road maintenance superintendent on June 1 and previously served for several years as president of the Woodmere Civic Association. Kyle Green Jr., a Marrero Democrat who graduated from Archbishop Shaw High School and has a law degree from Southern University, signed up to challenge Billiot after running against him in 2011.
The qualifying period for the Oct. 24 primary ends at 4 p.m. Thursday. Check back with The New Orleans Advocate later for updates.
CORRECTION: This story at first incorrectly said that Christiana had been fired as Lagasse’s administrative assistant in February. She actually resigned, and this story has been corrected.