Kenner mayor facing heated opposition in Saturday's vote

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wwltv.com

Posted on April 3, 2014 at 10:59 PM

Updated Thursday, Apr 3 at 11:01 PM

Jaclyn Kelley / Eyewitness News
Email: jkelley@wwltv.com | Twitter: @jkelleyWWL

KENNER, La. -- Walter Bennetti and Al Morella both have one thing in common. They have been very critical of Kenner Mayor Mike Yenni during his first term.

The outspoken rivals hope to challenge the mayor's bid for a second term.

“I am not beholden to no one,” said Morella, an independent. “I have taken no campaign contributions and won't. I have not asked for any political endorsements.”

“We need more openness and transparency in Kenner government, and I know I want to reform Kenner government,” said Bennetti, a Republican and the head of Citizens for a Better Kenner.

Both candidates want to restore trust in Kenner's local government, and for these opponents no-bid contracts are at the heart of the matter.

“There is no accountability to the people of Kenner when it comes to their money and no-bid contracts, which in my opinion are awarded to whoever makes the most campaign contributions downtown,” Morella said.

Morella and Bennetti heavily criticized the city for awarding contracts to companies who've made generous campaign contributions, including contracts awarded for the Kenner 2030 plan.

But Yenni argues Kenner has the most transparent government under his leadership.

“We post all contracts online. We advertise all bids. We follow the letter of the law,” he said. “But they go out to architects, engineers and professional services that don't require a bid.”

The candidates also highly contest the Kenner 2030 plan.

The mayor said the $37 million revitalization project will improve major corridors like Laketown and Rivertown to help attract businesses and young families to the city.

“We have a declining Esplanade Mall, we have commercial blight, we have residential blight throughout the city,” Bennetti said. “We have a lot of issue that can't be turned around just by putting up public art and taking on the largest debt in Kenner's history.”

But Yenni stands by the plan and economic development it will bring.

“I have surrounded myself with the very best, and their heart is in taking care of this city and making sure this city is well funded and that we are going to do everything we possibly can to make Kenner the community of choice it once was.”

There are other big races on Saturday's ballot. Four candidates are running for police chief in Harahan, and in St. Tammany Parish, voters will elect a new coroner to replace Peter Galvan.

There are also council races in St. Charles Parish and Slidell.

Polls open Saturday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Election results will begin on the bottom of your screen at 8 p.m. with more detailed coverage on Eyewitness News at 10 p.m.

 

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