NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The recall effort against Jefferson Parish President Mike Yenni has moved beyond just collecting signatures on petitions. Now it has taken to the airwaves.
"I'm a mother. I've raised three sons, and I find his behavior repulsive." "Yenni's gotta go." "On Election Day, make sure you sign the petition," say citizens in a political ad airing on local television.
"Testimonials from residents expressing their disappointment that Yenni didn't resign and demanding his resignation," said Robert Evans III, organizer of the Yenni Recall Drive.
In an exclusive interview with FOX 8 News, Yenni was asked about his opinion of the recall effort.
"I've done nothing that has violated my oath of office, I think I've done a good job over the past 10 months," he said.
Weeks ago, Yenni aired a TV commercial in which he admitted to and then apologized for sending improper text messages to a young man. That revelation caused the entire parish council to call on Yenni to resign, as well as a majority of top elected officials in Jefferson Parish.
While Yenni would not discuss specifics of the text messages, he is convinced much of the heat he is taking is driven by political foes.
"Well, the constant calls are by a lot of political enemies and the same people who were some of my enemies in Kenner," he told FOX 8 News.
Evans, however, said the recall drive is about wanting change. And he said his group is having no problems getting people to sign the recall petition.
"We're getting over a thousand a day," Evans said.
"I get there's people signing petitions, I understand it. But those petitions, but the people pushing the petitions, I believe are politically motivated," Yenni said.
"I absolutely think it's necessary that he resign. In fact, he said he would respect the wish of the people," said Evans.
Some citizens at Wednesday's parish council meeting called on Parish Registrar Dennis DiMarco to remove himself from any part of the process.
"They talked about our registrar of voters. I hope our registrar of voters recuses himself so that nobody can say it's a flawed process," Yenni said after the meeting.
FOX 8 asked Yenni whether he was confident he could stick to his position of not bowing to pressure to resign.
"The public elected me to this position, and I'm going to honor that as long as they want me here," he said. "And if I'm recalled, that's the will of the people, and I'm going to, of course, abide by the will of the people."
This week, the Jefferson Parish School Board voted to officially ban Yenni from all schools and school functions. Yenni had already voluntarily promised he would stay away.
A school board member gave a sharp characterization of Yenni during the meeting.
"He's a self-admitted pervert. I don't know what we're arguing about here. I mean, that is what his letter said to us. So let's just get the vote on and make sure he doesn't come to our campuses," said board member Marion Bonura.
FOX 8 asked Yenni to respond to Bonura's words.
"Never said that, so I don't know where he's coming from. ...I think some of the comments that were made, especially by Mr. Bonura, was totally out of line," Yenni stated.
Even with the ongoing controversy, Yenni said he has a strong support group.
"Personally, I have the greatest wife in the world. She's very supportive of me and is a very forgiving woman, and has certainly reached out and been very steadfast in support of me along with my mother, father, brother, sister-in-law - my real family," he said.