NEW ORLEANS -- As the effort to recall Jefferson Parish President Mike Yenni intensifies, one political family hopes it succeeds: the family of Mike Yenni, the former parish president who died in 1995.
The son of that former political leader, Michael J. Yenni, who shares his name, says that while his family was shocked by the allegations, they were saddened by the effect it could potentially have on their family name. In few homes is the Mike Yenni sexting scandal as personal as in this one.
“A lot of people have come up to me asking is that your dad,” said Michael Yenni Jr. “My dad was Michael Yenni, that's who I'm named after. I'm a junior.”
Yenni is the youngest son of the late parish president Mike Yenni. He and the current parish president are first cousins, both grandsons of former parish president and Kenner mayor Joe Yenni, who died in 1987. His son, Michael J. Yenni, succeeded him in office.
“The current parish president was born Michael Maunoir but legally had his name changed several years after my dad died,” Mike Yenni Jr. said. “It's kind of a shame we've seen him tarnish a name that he didn't even build.”
In the wake of the current parish president's admission that he sent inappropriate text messages to a teen, Michael Yenni, the first-year law school student, worries that people, including potential employers, may confuse them. It is a concern his mother shared publicly prior to the last election.
In a political commercial last fall for Yenni’s opponent, Elton Lagasse, Susan Yenni reminded viewers that “My son is the real Mike Yenni. He's not the mayor of Kenner seeking election for parish president.” Michael Yenni Jr.’s family says they've questioned the character of the parish president ever since Michael Maunoir quietly changed his name, when Michael Yenni Jr. was just 10. But now that a recall effort is underway, we asked whether anyone on this side of the family planned to run for parish president should the job become open.
“I don't think me or anyone in my immediate family has any political aspirations,” Mike Yenni Jr. said.
The family of the late Mike Yenni said they're not interested in political payback. They just want to set the record straight. “Just for the people of Jefferson to remember that he's not me, he's not my brother, he's not my dad and he's not my dad's son at all and don't let the actions of Michael Maunoir tarnish the Yenni name.”
Michael Yenni Jr. doesn't live in Jefferson Parish but said if he did, he would sign the recall petition. These Yennis do want the parish president to step down and they say, the sooner the better.
Tuesday at 10 p.m., Eyewitness News will release the results of an exclusive WWL-TV/New Orleans Advocate poll on the Yenni scandal. What do voters in the parish think of Yenni, and the recall effort? Get the results of our exclusive poll, Tuesday at 10 p.m.