Recall drive begins against Mike Yenni over texting controversy; Yenni refuses to budge

Recall drive begins against Mike Yenni over texting controversy; Yenni refuses to budge

METAIRIE, LA (WVUE) - An effort to recall Jefferson Parish President Mike Yenni is officially underway.

The Louisiana Secretary of State's Office confirmed that petition drive documents were received Wednesday.

"I filed, I believe out of necessity a petition to recall Parish President Mike Yenni. He stated he believes it is a personal issue, I think it's a completely public issue," said Metairie Attorney Robert Evans, III.

Evans, the son of former Jefferson Parish Council Chair Bob Evans, said no one asked him to file the petition and said he is committing $100,000 of his own money to fund it.

He said he felt he had a moral obligation to do so.

"I felt an absolute necessity to take the action that I did today, and file a petition to recall because I believe he is not a fit character," said Evans to a group of news reporters during the afternoon.

Yenni admits sending improper text messages to a young man.  But he insists he did not violate the law.

"I think it's impossible for him to be able to do his job, his conduct is completely reprehensible," continued Evans.

The petition drive follows a slew of top Jefferson Parish elected leaders calling on Yenni to resign.

"Every council person has asked for his resignation, he has chosen not to resign so the next logical step is for voters to be involved.  If they choose to be involved that's actually the only way to remove him from office," said Councilwoman Jennifer Van Vrancken.

The Gretna City Council prepared a resolution for its Wednesday evening meeting urging Yenni to resign.

"This is not a personal decision that we made, but it's a decision that's based on integrity," said Councilman-at-Large Wayne Rau.

Councilman Mark Miller is sponsor of the resolution.

"I just think there will be numerous hurdles for him to face, you know, with the school board coming out talking about their issues, as well, and I mean overall the public's view of the office," said Miller.

During Wednesday evening's meeting, the council unanimously approved a resolution asking Yenni to step down amid the texting controversy.

Louisiana Republican Party Chairman Roger Villere told FOX 8 News, "We're extremely disappointed in his actions and we really believe that in the long run for the state and Jefferson Parish and for his family that he should resign."

Villere added that the Republican State Central Committee had not met to weigh in on its official position. Evans said he refused to listen to people who say it's too difficult to try to recall a public official, he says he's already encouraged by the support he's receiving from people contacting him about volunteering and signing the petition.

Ed Lancaster, President of the watchdog group, Citizens for a Better Kenner said they will join in the recall effort, along with several other groups.

"Today's technology, it is not the days of yester-year where communication is tough…
With today's technology it's a different world and I think 95,000 signatures is very doable…I have to listen to my heart, my heart tells me it's the right thing to do," said Evans.

To force a recall election, 33.3 percent of the qualified electors in the voting area will have to sign the petition.

Yenni issued a statement in response to the launch of the recall drive.

"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," Yenni said.

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