This Saturday, March 27, will see municipal elections in the cities of Kenner and Gretna, along with a special election for judge in Jefferson Parish. Gambit has a long history of supporting an appointed judiciary, and for that reason we make no endorsement in judicial races. In the municipal elections, many incumbents were automatically re-elected when no one qualified against them. In other contests, we make the following recommendations:
Kenner Mayor: Mike Yenni
The Kenner mayor's race has been the most hotly contested on the ballot, with candidates Phil Capitano and Mike Yenni spending much of their time slinging mud and minutiae at each other. While both candidates have flaws, we believe Mike Yenni is clearly the better choice. Capitano served as mayor for just two years (2004-06), but his brief tenure was the stormiest in memory for Kenner citizens. Yenni, by contrast, is a coalition builder who has the temperament and skill sets that Kenner needs to move forward. For the past four years, he has served as the top aide to retiring Mayor Ed Muniz, who, along with most city and parish officials, is supporting Yenni. We also believe that Yenni, at age 33, will only get better at the job, whereas Capitano is likely to continue his history of confrontation and contentiousness.
Kenner Council at-Large
Division A: Michele Branigan
Incumbent Michele Branigan has served on the Kenner Council for 13 years, starting as a district council member before winning a citywide seat in 2006. She has a good grasp of the issues that confront Kenner and works well with her colleagues to find common-sense solutions to the city's most pressing problems. She deserves voters' continued support.
District 2: Joe Stagni
Dr. Joe Stagni, a chiropractor, has been actively involved in Kenner's civic, professional and political affairs for many years. As a council member, he worked to increase funding for capital projects in District 2, putting money into streets, drainage and sewerage improvements. He is a business-minded fiscal conservative who will continue working to assure voters that their tax dollars are wisely spent.
District 4: Arita Bohannan
Attorney Arita Bohannan has a background in business as well as law, along with a proven record of hard work and resourcefulness. District 4 includes The Esplanade mall, which is struggling to resume its place as a regional shopping destination. Bohannan promises to improve the council's responsiveness to citizens and businesses in the district and to "follow through" on requests for City Hall's assistance in rebuilding Kenner's economy. She is endorsed by the Alliance for Good Government, and we believe her election will bring a needed change to the council.
District 5: Kent Denapolis
Incumbent Kent Denapolis helped lead the fight to trim the city budget in these lean times, starting with his decision early on not to accept a city take-home vehicle. He also reduced the city's growing executive pay plan while focusing on "brick-and-mortar" projects and infrastructure improvements for his district. He deserves another term on the council.
District 1: Milton Crosby
Retired educator Milton Crosby is the standout in this race. The incumbent, Jonathan Bolar, faces more than a dozen federal criminal charges, including four counts of extortion, two counts of wire fraud, four counts of failing to file tax returns, and three counts of "structuring" financial transactions to evade IRS reporting requirements. Specifically, the feds allege that Bolar used his council seat to extort thousands of dollars from Gretna residents in exchange for zoning variances. His trial is set for April 5, less than 10 days after the election. Clearly, a change is needed in this district, and Crosby offers the best alternative to the incumbent's embattled tenure. A Gretna resident for more than 35 years, Crosby served on the council for two months while Bolar's seat was declared vacant. He has good relationships with other council members and a history of working in and for the community. His priorities are neighborhood beautification, enhanced recreational opportunities and infrastructure improvements.
We urge all our readers in Kenner and Gretna to go to the polls on Saturday.