(WVUE) - With the qualifying period ended, the race for the Jefferson Parish Council seat vacated by Ben Zahn attracted two people already in office.
"I would like to see this parish get a little bit more aggressive in moving forward. I think we're at a standstill," said State Sen. Danny Martiny, R-Kenner.
"It's not that I personally want to as much as I believe that I'm in a position to be able to serve the community in the manner in which they need right now," said Kenner City Councilman Dominick Impastato.
Both are running for the District 4 seat which is currently occupied by an interim councilman. The two were the only candidates to sign up for the race this week, and the race is heating up with talk about who would be the most independent on the council.
Martiny believes a three-person faction on the council wants Impastato to give them a majority vote.
"I kept hearing this term, so and so needs a fourth vote, and if you know me, I'm not anybody's vote. I've been a floor leader for the governor and I've taken on the governor," said Martiny.
"I have no personal allegiance to anyone except the community that I represent, and so for him to make such a statement is really off color," Impastato said in response.
Martiny thinks the parish's progress is stymied by the controversy resulting from inappropriate text messages Parish President Michael Yenni admitted sending and for which he later publicly apologized.
"We need to focus more on the future of the parish and not so much the future of Mike Yenni and that group. I'm very sorry for his situation. I think he needs to do something about it, but I don't think the parish can wait around," said Martiny, who thinks Yenni should step down.
A recall petition drive against Yenni was unsuccessful.
"The purpose of getting the fourth vote is to, in some way, try to - they believe that they can resurrect his career, maybe they can, I don't want to take that chance," Martiny added.
Impastato scoffs at that claim.
"To protect the parish president, I find that absolutely ridiculous," said Impastato.
Impastato said he also called for Yenni's resignation as part of the Kenner Council.
Both agree economic development is needed in the parish, and both are concerned about the future of parish-owned East Jefferson Hospital.
"I want to make sure that East Jefferson and West Jefferson remain viable public hospitals here in Jefferson Parish. I don't want them to fail," Martiny said.
For Impastato, privatization is not out of the question.
"I would not oppose that if it's with the right entity to come in an manage the hospital … but I'm not necessarily saying that the sole solution is to privatize the hospital," said Impastato.
Despite their differences, each of the candidates insists he would be the best choice for voters.
"I have more experience than my opponent. I've got a record of over 20 years of votes," said Martiny.
"I think that what the people of our community are looking for right now is independence, aggressive leadership and frankly not career politicians," said Impastato.