Kenner voters gave Mayor Mike Yenni a landslide victory Saturday night, sending him to a second term by beating back two tenacious but under-funded and out-campaigned opponents. There will be a runoff for a heated City Council at-large race.
The mayor's race pitted the incumbent against two of his frequent critics, Walt Bennetti and Al Morella. Bennetti, a blogger and activist, formed a citizens group and even sued the city to protest moves by Yenni’s administration. Morella, a former longshoreman and citizen activist, vowed not to take any campaign contributions in his bid for the office.
Unofficial and incomplete returns show Yenni earning 75 percent of the vote, to Bennetti’s 18 percent. Morella was third with 7 percent.
Yenni, the grandson of former mayor Joe Yenni and nephew of former Jefferson Parish President Mike Yenni, was first elected in 2010, after serving as chief administrative officer for former Mayor Ed Muniz.
In another citywide race Saturday, Yenni strongly campaigned for his former city attorney Keith Conley, who resigned his post and then announced a run for an open City Council at-large seat.
Conley and current District 5 council member Kent Denapolis will face off in a runoff. Denapolis was term-limited and opted to run for the seat, a factor for which Conley attacked him, among other issues. The race got heated in its final days, with each candidate launching attacks on the other’s record and qualifications. Sales executive Scarlett Alaniz earned 8 percent of the vote.
There were also three district council races to be considered Saturday.
In the race for the District 1 seat, incumbent Gregory Carroll sailed to re-election, with 61 percent of the vote over challengers Dee Dunn and Robert Jones Jr..
There will be a May 3 runoff in Kenner’s District 2 race, between Mike Sigur and Bill Schwertz. Mayor Yenni’s cousin, Ronnie Yenni, was in third place.
In the District 5 race, political newcomer and Yenni ally Dominick Impastato easily defeated former mayor Phil Capitano, who was seeking to return to the council seat he held before being elected mayor. Impastato earned 68 percent of the vote to Capitano’s 32 percent.
District 3 councilman Keith Reynaud was re-elected without opposition. Current District 4 council member Maria DeFrancesch was elected to the council’s other at-large post without opposition. Leonard Cline was elected to the District 4 seat without opposition.