District seat remains empty in JP as council argues over parish's direction

District seat remains empty in JP as council argues over parish's direction

JEFFERSON PARISH, LA (WVUE) - A decision not to agree on a possible replacement for the Jefferson Parish District 4 seat left council members at odds in an already divided chamber Wednesday.

"This council has been somewhat divided for some time now, and I don't think people find that to be unusual. It's not uncommon," Council Chair Chris Roberts said.

If the vacant district seat is not filled by Feb. 12, Gov. John Bel Edwards would have to appoint someone to that position.

The seat remains empty after former District 4 council member Ben Zahn took over as Kenner's mayor. Zahn said he was disappointed by what he believes is Robert's stalling on his replacement.

"While Governor Edwards is an honorable man, he shouldn't be asked to make a decision for Jefferson Parish when the parish council is more than capable of making that decision itself," Zahn said. "I would be remiss, though, if I did not question Chris Roberts motive for today's actions."

The feud and controversy in Jefferson Parish government continued Wednesday and played out in public during the parish's council meeting.

"Mr. Yenni let me say this to you: Every allegation that you guys brought against me during my campaign by an individual who filed continuous suits, right after the election was over you employed him in Kenner," Roberts said.

"I'm a little tired of being ambushed, but I guess in some ways it's my fault," Parish President Mike Yenni said. "But Chris, you know I've done everything in my power to work through this."

Yenni and Roberts' exchange at the council meeting shows the ongoing divide left after Yenni's texting scandal with a young man became public. Roberts wants Yenni out of office, but the recall effort against the parish president has not garnered the more than 90,000 signatures needed to bring the issue to a public vote.

In the meantime, Yenni is free to lead and conduct business for the parish as usual.

As the council members find themselves at odds with one another over controversial issues, residents worry important issues are being pushed aside.

"Voters of Jefferson Parish are saying 'Look, we are going to make a choice when he comes up for re-election. Let's be about the business of the parish,'" the Rev. Aubrey Wallace told the council.

Copyright 2017 WVUE. All rights reserved.