Edwards’ new top aide, a former disaster official, hopes to use his experience to work across party lines

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Gov. John Bel Edwards’ new chief of staff, Mark Cooper, has years of experience in something that Louisiana is highly accustomed to: disasters.

From catastrophic hurricanes to historic floods to man-made disasters like the Deepwater Horizon explosion and massive oil spill, the state has found itself in a nearly continual cycle of crises in recent years. And that’s not even counting the cycle of budget emergencies.

Cooper — who previously served as head of Louisiana’s disaster management agency; worked in California on response to Los Angeles riots, earthquakes and wildfires; and most recently was the senior director of global emergency management for Wal-Mart, the world’s largest private employer — sees one silver lining to disasters: They bring people together across partisan lines to do what’s best…

 

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