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Gretna Council approves resolution asking Yenni to step down

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JEFFERSON PARISH, LA (WVUE) -

During a Wednesday evening meeting, the Gretna City Council unanimously approved a resolution asking Jefferson Parish President Mike Yenni to step down amid a texting controversy. 

In a television commercial, Yenni admitted to sending inappropriate texts to a young man. He then apologized to everyone involved in the incident and to the residents of Jefferson Parish. 

“We just feel with everything, with the allegations, and the admissions, right now, that it's going to be something that's gonna be difficult for him to move forward and be effective throughout the parish,” Gretna Councilman Mark Miller said.

The resolution comes days after multiple elected officials in the parish including the entire Jefferson Parish council and Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand asked Yenni to step down. 

Miller said despite Yenni’s effectiveness as Parish President during his time in office, it will likely be too difficult to move forward until he steps down.

“He's really been a good Parish President since taking office and he's helped out with so many things throughout the city, this is something you never want to see happen, especially in a case like this, but you feel with the residents’ outcry and joining the Parish Council as well with their request, we just feel like this is where we need to be on this,” Miller said.

On Tuesday, the Westwego City Council also unanimously voted on a resolution, calling for Yenni to step down. 

The Harahan City Council is also expected to introduce a similar resolution during their meeting next week.

Yenni has stated that he refuses to step down as Jefferson Parish President. "I'm going to keep doing my job and work as hard as I have since Day 1," Yenni said Monday evening following a meeting with top members of his staff.

But Miller feels his citizens want to see change, despite Yenni’s plea for patience.

“We just had Gretna Fest and that was one of the things that was brought up often on the street, ‘What’s going on? What are y’all going to do?’ you know and we're here today,” Miller said.

The Louisiana Secretary of State's Office received and officially filed a recall petition document, Wednesday. The document was sent by Metairie attorney Robert Evans III, who says that he is committing $100,000 of his own money to fund the petition drive. 

Yenni issued a statement Wednesday evening responding to the recall petition. The following is the statement sent from Yenni's office: 

“I will abide by the will of the people.  I have acknowledged my mistake, and I have taken full responsibility.  I have also vowed to focus my attention on governing and meeting the demands that I am expected to meet.  I have not violated my oath, nor have I abused or misused the power of my office.  I have, in no way, given anyone cause to believe that I am not doing the job that I was elected to do.  The incident at the center of this allegation is personal, and I was not Parish President at the time of the incident.  There has been no misuse of tax dollars or public assets.  I can hope the people of Jefferson will afford me the opportunity to prove that I will separate my personal challenge from my public responsibility, and that I can rise above this.”

State Representative Stephanie Hilferty, who represents parts of Jefferson Parish, commented on the Yenni texting controversy saying, "I was extremely shocked. This is abhorrent and unacceptable behavior by any adult, much less an elected official. The behavior demonstrated by President Yenni and the subsequent loss of support by the Jefferson Parish council, other parish-wide elected officials, and many of his constituents, severely compromise President Yenni's ability to serve as Parish President.  For these reasons, I believe he should resign."

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