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

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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