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Jefferson Parish Council, Sheriff Normand & others call for Yenni's resignation

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GRETNA, LA (WVUE) -

Less than nine months ago Mike Yenni was sworn in as Jefferson Parish’s new president, but now the entire parish council and Sheriff Newell Normand want him to step down amid his texting scandal.

"The snowball effect is not on a positive, it's on a negative end, and that's what you always see in situations like this,” said political analyst and pollster Silas Lee.

"Michael has actually created a lot of energy in the job and has done a good job, but I don’t think he is going to be in a position, and he will be significantly impaired for a long time, quite frankly, and I don't think he is going to be able to govern effectively in the manner in which he has in the past," said Normand.

On Thursday, Yenni aired a commercial in which he fessed-up to improper conduct.

“Last summer, I was old enough to know better but I guess I was still young enough to do something stupid. I chose to send improper texts to a young man. I won't go into details out of respect for the rights and privacy of all parties. I made a bad decision. I regret my actions,” said Yenni, who did not elaborate.

He has been criticized for not calling a press conference where the news media would have been able to ask him questions about the controversy.

"Certainly, the way he handled it, people have more questions and they would like to hear more answers, but this is an unfolding drama to a large degree,” Lee said.

Just before noon, council members Chris Roberts, Cynthia Lee Sheng and Ricky Templet issued a letter in which they demanded Yenni’s resignation.

Then, later Friday afternoon, the other four council members issued a letter asking Yenni to resign.

"It's a very difficult scenario that we find ourselves in, and it is very hard to continue the business of day-to-day parish government with this hanging over us all," said Councilwoman Jennifer Van Vrancken.

"When you look at the cumulative aspect of that, it's very difficult for Mike Yenni to try to effectively govern with a cloud of suspicion over his head for an action he said he was wrong at doing,” said Lee.

On Wednesday, members of the watchdog group Citizens for a Better Kenner showed up at the parish council meeting, which Yenni skipped. They and others spoke at the meeting and demanded that Yenni step down, and the president of Citizens for a Better Kenner reiterated that on Friday.

"He cannot be effective in drawing people to the parish. He's just not - he's lost all respect,” said Ed Lancaster, who is now calling on the Jefferson Parish School Board to speak up against Yenni.

"We are calling on the school board to call for his resignation, it's only appropriate,” he said.

School Board President Ray St. Pierre told FOX 8 News that the board would “absolutely not” get involved in the controversy. But board member Sandy Denapolis said she believes the board as a whole should discuss the matter, and that she planned to bring up the issue during a special board meeting next week.

Dr. Lee said history is not on Yenni’s side.

"When you look at other situations that involved elected officials and in some cases sexting or texting, they tried to ride it out. B but just the wave of public opinion was always against them, Jim McGreevy the former governor of New Jersey in a situation like this, Anthony Weiner, too, so that the challenge for Mike Yenni at this point in time,” he said.

Yenni is away from the community. Hours before his commercial hit the airwaves, he issued a memo stating that he had been called up for military duty in the wake of Hurricane Matthew’s devastation of parts of the Carribbean. But that draws public scrutiny.

“I do not believe that the Navy called him out and got him out of town just at the right time. I think he asked for that,” said Lancaster.

Still, Lancaster is not ready to launch a recall effort.

"Recall petitions are very, very difficult to pull off,” he said.

It's unclear what will happen next. Van Vrancken said the council can't force Yenni to resign.

"There are several options from this point, one of which would be for him to choose to voluntarily resign, another could be a vote of no confidence or potentially for residents of the parish to recall, at this point we have asked for his resignation," said Van Vrancken. 

We reached out to Yenni's camp, but they have not responded to our request for comment. 

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