THE ICON: Joe Yenni
THE LEGACY: New Orleans would not be the same city is today if neighboring Jefferson Parish had not grown as rapidly as it did in the second half of the 20th century. And while many contributed to that growth, perhaps no one had a more enduring impact than Joe Yenni. In 1979 — with public confidence in government gutted by a wave of corruption — the former three-term mayor of Kenner threw his hat into the ring for the parish presidency. Pledging to clean up government, the energetic and optimistic Yenni won with an astounding 77 percent of the vote. For the remaining seven years of his life, he would work to deliver on his campaign promise. Blunt but hard-working, he set high ethical standards for those working with him, earning him the enduring trust of voters. By the time he died in 1987, he was the most popular chief executive in the modern history of a parish whose fate is inextricably tied to New Orleans.
THE ARTIST: Michael McManus
THE INSPIRATION: “He was the only person in the history of the parish who could say, ‘Trust me,’ and people would respond.” — Market research Allen Rosenweig, talking about Joe Yenni in 1987