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Public activist running for Jeff Dist. 4 council seat

26th September 2011   ·   0 Comments

By Christopher Tidmore
The Louisiana Weekly

“I don’t believe that we can change our government if we continue electing the same names and people that hop from one political job to the next,” Walt Bennetti who is running to replace the term-limited Louis Congemi on the Jefferson Parish Council told The Louisiana Weekly.

“I love Jefferson Parish and District 4. I could live anywhere but I choose to live here. Through my work as president of Citizens For A Better Kenner, we’ve been able to have an impact on the City of Kenner. We fought to defeat Mayor Yenni’s plan to double property taxes and fought against the Mayor’s plan to close playgrounds. I am the only candidate in the District 4 race to publicly oppose the tax plan and the playground closings. I feel that I can have a greater impact on our community as an elected official and stand up for our community and improve our parish.”

It is that fight that encouraged him to run. When Bennetti realized that he was “the only candidate that openly and vocally opposed Mayor Yenni’s plan to double property taxes and his plan to close playgrounds,” he decided he had to run for the Jefferson Council. “The primary difference between myself and the other candidates is that they’re politicians. They make decisions based upon what is right politically instead of what is right for the community. I don’t need a poll to tell me what is right for District 4 and Jefferson Parish.”

Kenner is not the limit of Bennetti’s activism. “As a private citizen, I stood up for business and land owners in Fat City and was against the Fat City Rezoning Ordinance, not because I don’t think that Fat City needs to be revitalized but because I believed that the current business and land owners, who already made significant financial investments in Fat City, should be a part of the revitalization. I was the only candidate for District 4 that voiced an opinion on the largest rezoning ordinance in Jefferson Parish in the last 50 years.”

“I’m not afraid to stand up for what I believe in. I listen, ask questions, and then do what I think is right. We may not always agree on every issue, but I will always listen and consider all points of view.”

Bennetti rates his top three campaign planks as “1) Reducing taxes and government waste; 2) Making Jefferson Parish more business-friendly to attract new jobs and opportunities and retain existing companies; and 3) Providing more Arts and Recreational opportunities for our youth and adults.”

Jefferson is becoming one of Louisiana’s most multicultural parishes, with over 40 percent minority population. The African-American population continues to grow, and the city has the fastest growing Hispanic population in the state. Bennetti argued that government outreach should change to reflect the parish’s diversity.
“One thing that I will do as Councilman is employ a diverse staff and appoint a group of advisors from throughout the community to offer input on the needs of the entire community. I’m also going to hold frequent town hall meetings throughout the District to get more community input so that I can adequately address the needs of the District. I also plan to open a satellite office in the District so residents and business owners can meet with me without the need to go to the Yenni Building during business hours. My job as Councilman is to serve the community. I can’t adequately address the needs of the community without input from the community.”

Bennetti concluded, “Regard­less of Council District maps, I will do whatever I can to improve District 4, Kenner, Metairie, and all of Jefferson Parish. I appreciate [the readers of the] Louisiana Weekly for considering my candidacy, I would be honored to have your vote, and you can rest assured that I will not let you down.”

The primary is October 22, 2011. Besides Bennetti, Ben Zahn, Skip Hand, Mildred Congemi, Ted McNeel, and Michele Branigan are all seeking the open Jefferson Parish Council District 4 seat. The Louisiana Weekly invites each to seek our newspaper’s endorsement.

This article was originally published in the September 26, 2011 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper

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