Top aide to Yenni may run for Kenner mayor

Saying he’s been in the middle of everything that Kenner’s government has done for the past decade, the top aide to Mayor Mike Yenni last week joined several other potential candidates who have expressed an early interest in succeeding his boss, who recently won the race for Jefferson Parish president.

Michael Quigley, Kenner’s chief administrative officer, said he is “seriously thinking about” running for mayor after Yenni takes over the Jefferson presidency in January following his victory over four opponents in the Oct. 24 primary.

Quigley’s statement came a couple of days after City Council members Keith Conley, Maria DeFrancesch and Keith Reynaud and Jefferson Parish Justice of the Peace Kevin Centanni all confirmed they are considering possible mayoral bids in a special election that might not be held until November 2016.

Nonetheless, some Kenner political insiders said they think it’s possible Conley will join Yenni’s parish administration and pass on running for mayor.

Conley declined to delve far into his plans but did make it a point to say he would not run against Quigley.

Before joining Kenner’s city administration, Quigley spent 34 years in Jefferson Parish government. He was appointed director of the parish Recreation Department by Yenni’s uncle, Michael J. Yenni Sr., who was parish president from 1987 until 1995.

Quigley was then an executive assistant under former Presidents Tim Coulon and Aaron Broussard before retiring about 9 ½ years ago.

Soon afterward, Quigley became a deputy chief administrative officer in Kenner when Yenni was the city’s CAO under former Mayor Ed Muniz. After Yenni was elected in 2010 to succeed Muniz, he made Quigley his CAO, which is the second-highest position in the city’s administration.

“I’ve been involved in everything (since),” Quigley said while discussing his thoughts on a possible mayoral run.

Yenni will be inaugurated as parish president Jan. 6. It is expected he will resign as mayor shortly before that date, and whoever is the City Council chairman at that time will be his interim replacement until the special election is held.

Candidate blames loss on disqualified rival

Although New Orleans East voters largely backed his opponents in the Oct. 24 primary in House District 100, Willie Jones wants a do-over.

Jones finished in third place, 300 votes short of making the Nov. 21 runoff, but he said that’s because of a technicality, not unpopularity.

He has asked the Orleans Parish Clerk of Court’s Office for a recount because a disqualified candidate’s name was left on the ballot, he said.

That candidate was Jason Hughes, a Stand for Children official whom many had seen as a frontrunner in the fight to succeed term-limited Rep. Austin Badon. Hughes’ hopes were dashed in September when a judge banned him from the race because he didn’t file a tax return for 2010. The ruling came after Jones requested Hughes’ tax information and resident Derselene Nixon sued.

All candidates eligible to file tax returns for the past five years must have done so or else sought an extension, under state rules.

Hughes was disqualified Sept. 23 but appealed, delaying a final decision until Sept. 29.

Early voting began Oct. 10, “enough time for anyone’s name to be removed from the ballot,” Jones said.

But when Jones voted, “I saw his name on the ballot. And I got furious.”

If a candidate is disqualified after ballots are printed, the name will remain but votes for that candidate will be discarded. Jones argues that, had Hughes’ name not been on the ballot, Jones would have gained enough votes to edge his way into the runoff.

“It’s my belief that Mr. Jason Hughes’ name was left on the ballot to spite my candidacy,” Jones said, adding that Hughes is well connected in political circles.

Jones gained 24 percent of the primary vote, behind John Bagneris’ 38 percent and Alicia Plummer Clivens’ 28 percent.

Bagneris and Plummer Clivens will compete for the seat in the runoff.

Andy Kopplin channels his inner Donald Trump

For those who find New Orleans City Council budget meetings less exciting than Republican presidential campaign debates, Deputy Mayor Andy Kopplin has you covered.

Kopplin showed up for the council’s hearing on court budgets Friday — the day before Halloween — in a blond Donald Trump wig and offering a moment or two of the kind of over-the-top statements the candidate himself might have made.

“We have a fabulous plan for the Traffic Court. It’s going to be so good. Biggest Traffic Court ever. Fantastic people,” Kopplin joked before getting down to business.

Compiled by Ramon Antonio Vargas, Jessica Williams and Jeff Adelson