GRETNA, La. (WGNO) – Embattled Jefferson Parish President Mike Yenni asked the Jefferson Parish Council to accept his apologies and let him return to work in his first public statement to the council since admitting to sending inappropriate text messages to a 17-year-old boy.
In a brief statement that at times sounded more akin to a church sermon, Yenni began by reaffirming his devotion to the people of Jefferson Parish.
“I have never taken my oath to this parish or the people lightly. I have never, and I will never,” Yenni said.
Since news first broke about inappropriate text messages with the then-underage high school student, Yenni said his life has turned bleak.
“Over the past few weeks, I have walked the deepest valley of despair, but I know that the valley is not the place to dwell, it is the place to climb from,” he said. “It is a place to remind you of your transgressions. It is a place to lift you to redemption.”
Citing his strong Catholic faith, Yenni thanked the clergy members who have counseled him recently, as well as his supportive friends and family members.
“I can tell you I have prayed longer and harder than I ever had before – for forgiveness, for strength, for hope, for clarity, for peace of heart and mind, and most of all for those that I have hurt, both emotionally and faithfully,” he said. “I never expect you or the people I have disappointed to forget my inequity, but I hope that you and all will let mercy triumph over judgment.”
Yenni pledged to move away from the “immorality” that he said “weakened” him.
“The mistakes I have made will never be repeated,” Yenni said. “That is not just my promise to the people, that is my promise to God.”
While his personal life has been invaded, Yenni pledged to not let his public life be invalidated.
“Now it is my job to move this parish forward, and I humbly ask you to let me do my job,” Yenni said.
Yenni’s comments came at the beginning of Wednesday’s parish council meeting. A large group of protesters planned to speak at the end of the meeting and call for his resignation.
The council passed a unanimous resolution casting a vote “of no confidence” in Yenni. The full council has asked Yenni to resign.
Watch our live stream of Yenni’s comments below:
Here’s Yenni’s initial response to the allegations: