Jefferson Parish politics is never dull, and the October primary for parish president promises to be an intra-parish war. Things are heating up already after at-large Councilmember Cynthia Lee Sheng confirmed she is running.
Lee Sheng, the daughter of the late, beloved Sheriff Harry Lee, will officially kick off her campaign on Feb. 12. Her candidacy had been rumored for months. She begins the race an early co-favorite against scandalized incumbent Mike Yenni, who has not yet declared his intentions.
Former parish president John Young, who served from 2012 to 2016, also says he will run. I’m told he and Lee Sheng run virtually even in early polls.
Confirming months of speculation, Jefferson Parish Councilwoman Cynthia Lee-Sheng announced Wednesday that she will run for parish president i…
Yenni remains toxic among Jefferson voters more than two years after he got caught sexting a 17-year-old high school boy. Proof of his vulnerability came in last spring’s special election for sheriff when frontrunner John Fortunato’s campaign imploded after he said in a TV debate that he would support Yenni for re-election. When asked about running, Yenni says voters like his record of accomplishment.
In confirming her candidacy, Lee Sheng says she “always wanted to be on the operational side” of government. She began her career as an agent in the federal Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), where she worked in enforcement as well as management.
Lee Sheng began her political career by winning a special election for the District 5 council seat 10 years ago. In 2015 she won her current council at-large seat. “I have loved the council side, but I like rolling up my sleeves to work with people to make things happen,” Lee Sheng told me. “I love this parish and I have a record of putting the parish first.
“I am able to put people together really well, and I’m more experienced on the operational side than any other recent parish president. My time with the federal government has served me well. You have to deliver numbers while your budget’s being cut. It’s about delivering services and maximizing delivery with taxpayers’ money — and being diplomatic in the process.”
Lee Sheng says she has about $150,000 in her campaign account.
Young served a single term as parish president after a stint on the parish council. Before that he served as an assistant district attorney. He ran for lieutenant governor in 2015, finishing third.
“No one can match the breadth and depth of my experience and my record of proven and independent leadership,” Young told me. “I have worked in all branches of local government — judicial, legislative and executive. I came into office in the aftermath of the [Aaron] Broussard scandal and restored voters’ trust, and I worked with our state and federal delegations to get money to rebuild the parish.”
Young adds that Jefferson is “an aging parish” that needs to continue investing in its infrastructure “by doing some transformative projects. Examples that I initiated include covering the canal on Canal Street in Metairie and making it a linear park, which has been a catalyst for remodeling in that area.”
Young says he has roughly $260,000 in his campaign account.
With or without Yenni, this race will be one to watch.
When notoriously colorful Jefferson Parish Sheriff Harry Lee died in 2007, he was replaced by his handpicked top aide, Newell Normand, whom ma…