Mayor Mike Yenni promised to build toward a more successful and united city in an inauguration speech Tuesday that pledged to live up to the slogan, “Kenner Strong.”
In a speech after he and other city officials were sworn in at the Pontchartrain Center, Yenni repeatedly returned to that theme and said the next four years would be spent working to bring more businesses and families to Kenner and to improve the quality of life for all residents.
“We shall not move slowly to build a better city when we can sprint to the finish and make ‘Kenner Strong,’ ” Yenni said.
Yenni, who coasted to re-election in April, became mayor in 2010.
“Today, we are united in a common goal, and we are stronger together than apart, ‘Kenner Strong,’ ” he said.
The administration’s first main focus will be on making improvements to Laketown that were detailed in Yenni’s State of the City speech earlier this year. That plan calls for finding a developer who will turn the area next to Lake Pontchartrain into an entertainment district with high-end condos.
“Our vision of upscale condo living amidst retail entertainment and access to the lake will be the envy of the parish and state, and it is my goal for it to take center stage in this term,” Yenni said.
Yenni and others have tied the development of Laketown with redevelopment in Rivertown, which city officials have lauded for its success in attracting businesses and government offices and being accepted into the Main Street redevelopment program.
Former Jefferson Parish Assessor Lawrence Chehardy praised the work in Rivertown and other improvements in the city as he introduced Yenni. He highlighted work included in Kenner 2030, an infrastructure improvement plan, plus savings from a streamlining that eliminated 130 city positions and the relocation of businesses to the city.
“Kenner is on the verge of a revival, a rebirth and renaissance all packaged into a juggernaut of progress,” Chehardy said.
Monday’s inauguration brought four new faces to the Kenner City Council: former City Attorney Keith Conley, former Kenner Police Department administrator Mike Sigur, lawyer Leonard Cline and lawyer Dominick Impastato. They join Councilwoman Maria DeFrancesch and Councilmen Gregory Carroll and Keith Reynaud, who won re-election this year.
Conley, Sigur and Impastato are all seen as Yenni allies, and their election likely means the mayor will have strong support on the council in his second term.
In their inauguration speeches, the council members also pledged to work toward improving the city.
Carroll said Kenner has made improvements over the past four years that make it a “great place to see” but now must focus on making it “a great place to be.”
Cline stressed the themes of “cooperation, compromise and progress,” saying that he looks to residents to give him their thoughts and concerns. “I have some answers and I have a lot of questions. I don’t have all the answers,” he said.
Newly inaugurated Police Chief Michael Glaser, who was the only candidate to run to replace Steve Caraway, praised his predecessor for “setting the standard high.” Caraway was prevented from seeking another four years in office by term limits.
“I promise to the citizens of Kenner you’re still going to have the same accountable, approachable Police Department,” Glaser said.
The inauguration was an elaborate event, including a small orchestra, multiple songs, prayers by Archbishop Gregory Aymond and others, and videos highlighting the successes of Yenni, Caraway and outgoing Councilwomen Jeanie Black and Michele Branigan. There were no similar videos for Councilmen Joe Stagni and Kent Denapolis, who also left the council but have frequently been at odds with the administration.
The event was paid for through private donations.
In conclusion, Yenni said the next four years will show results.
“ ‘Kenner Strong’ will not be just a slogan or a mission. Instead, it will be a movement and a force that cannot be ignored,” Yenni said.
Follow Jeff Adelson on Twitter, @jadelson.