New Orleans held the political spotlight for the first three months of the year in the quadrennial citywide elections. Now it's Kenner's turn. Louisiana's sixth-largest city (and easily the largest in Jefferson Parish) is holding its citywide elections Saturday, April 5.
Some of the Kenner races are already settled. First-time candidate Michael Glaser was elected Kenner's new police chief when no one qualified against him. Elsewhere, incumbent Councilwoman Maria Defrancesch likewise drew no opponent in the at-large Division A race, as did Keith Reynaud in Council District 3 and Leonard Cline in Council District 4. In the remaining Kenner races, we make the following recommendations:
For Mayor: Mike Yenni — Kenner's first-term mayor has brought a spirit of youth and enthusiasm to the job. Yenni's biggest accomplishment has been a forward-looking strategic plan for Kenner's economic revitalization, called "Kenner 2030." The plan thoroughly examines Kenner's present situation — declining home starts, older infrastructure in many areas, and an aging population — and charts a clear path forward for bringing the city back to a place of prominence by 2030. Among the plan's priorities are landscaping major arteries to make the city more attractive and reviving the major commercial corridors on both ends of Kenner, in Rivertown and Laketown.
Yenni also has been a staunch advocate for attracting younger families to Kenner, including his support for the Kenner Discovery Health Sciences Academy, which already has 500 elementary students. In his second term, the mayor pledges to find an appropriate and sustainable funding source for Kenner's police and fire departments. Probably his biggest challenge in his first term was voter rejection of a set of proposed millage increases. He took the defeat in stride and cut the city budget by $8.5 million, including the elimination of 135 government positions. He admits that due to budget cuts, City Hall responds to people on a much slower basis than before, but he continues to work hard for the people of his city. Mike Yenni has earned a second term as Kenner's mayor.
For Council at-Large, Division B: Keith Conley — Keith Conley has served the people of Kenner at practically every level of government, but this is his first time as a candidate for elective office. He began his career as a police officer, a job he held for 20 years. Then, after earning a law degree at night, he was a prosecutor in Kenner's city court, the clerk of the Kenner Mayor's Court, and then Kenner's full-time city attorney for seven years, until his recent retirement. Now he's offering himself as a candidate for City Council, and his qualifications are unmatched. He will work with Mayor Mike Yenni to fully fund Kenner's Police Department and to implement the Kenner 2030 strategic plan. He also promises to find ways to beef up Kenner's code enforcement division. We recommend Keith Conley for Council at-Large, Division B.
For Council, District 2: Mike Sigur — Mike Sigur served as a Kenner police officer for more than three decades, in both the enforcement and administrative divisions of the department. He capped his career by serving on the executive staffs of Kenner's last two police chiefs and supervised the construction of the department's administrative complex. He also has served as president of the Jefferson Alliance for Good Government and president of the Central Kenner Civic Association. District 2 straddles Interstate 10 and includes some of Kenner's older neighborhoods, where infrastructure needs are great, as well as some newer neighborhoods north of I-10, where traffic and business development are major concerns. Sigur's experience will serve him well as one of Kenner's new council members, and we recommend his election from District 2.
For Council District 5: Dominick Impastato — Council District 5 encompasses some of Kenner's nicest, and neediest, neighborhoods in the northwest corner of the city. Dominick Impastato offers that district's best hope for new leadership. A young attorney who served on the Kenner Economic Development Committee, he helped craft the Kenner 2030 plan and chaired one of its key subcommittees in improving Kenner's political climate. His focus on the council will be fighting blight in his district, improving the quality of life in all neighborhoods, and continuing to implement the Kenner 2030 plan for economic development. He is endorsed by a wide array of organizations and prominent individuals, and we add our name to that list. We recommend Dominick Impastato for Kenner Council District 5.