Vowing to pursue improvements in the areas of economic development, education and law enforcement, Kenner Mayor Mike Yenni on Wednesday announced he will run for Jefferson Parish president this fall, ending speculation that has been surrounding him for months.
Yenni, in his second term as Kenner’s mayor, has long said he wanted eventually to become the parish president, as his grandfather — Joseph S. Yenni — and uncle, also named Mike Yenni, were. But it wasn’t until Wednesday that he publicly acknowledged he will try to accomplish that goal in the Oct. 24 primary, airing a commercial featuring his wife, Michelle, and 1-year-old daughter, Reagan, during all the local 6 p.m. newscasts.
Yenni, 38, then addressed a standing-room-only crowd of supporters at Chateau Golf & Country Club’s main ballroom in Kenner as he officially kicked off his campaign.
“We all want the same things from government,” he told the crowd. “We want safe streets, a fair tax structure, a strong economy with family-wage jobs, schools that build brighter minds and government services that are reliable and reasonable.”
If elected, Yenni said, he would create an economic development task force to try to retain existing businesses and recruit new ones to the parish.
He talked about streamlining the parish’s permitting and zoning process in part by putting it online. That process now is “a noose that sometimes chokes off business with bureaucratic red tape,” he said.
Yenni promised he would work with parish School Board members, administrators, the mayors of Jefferson municipalities and business leaders to give families top education options. He cited the growth and academic performance of Kenner’s Discovery Health Sciences Academy while he’s been mayor.
He said he would work with Sheriff Newell Normand — “a no-nonsense, common-sense lawman” — in efforts to make the parish safer by eliminating blighted properties. “Blight ... leads to problems,” said Yenni, a Republican, who has emphasized eliminating blight in Kenner during his time as mayor there. “Everything in the world ... can happen in those blighted homes.”
Yenni also promised his administration would adhere to strict ethics guidelines.
Yenni’s lone announced opponent is three-term Parish Councilman Elton Lagasse, who announced his candidacy March 6. Incumbent President John Young is running for lieutenant governor.