Nevers resigning as chief of staff

Published 8:20 am Friday, February 3, 2017

Thursday evening, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced that his chief of staff, former State Sen. Ben Nevers, would step down from his position later this month. Nevers’ resignation will be effective Feb. 28.

Mark Cooper, the former director of the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP), will assume the role of chief of staff.

“Ben Nevers has been one of my closest friends in the legislature and a fierce advocate for the people of Louisiana for more than 30 years,” Edwards said. “Following my election as governor, I asked Ben to join this administration when he intended to retire to spend more time with this family. He accepted without hesitation and has done a tremendous job leading this team in our first year. Over the last year and during my time in the legislature, I turned to Ben for guidance, support and prayers, and he has delivered on each.

“I know I speak for a lot of folks at the state capitol when I say that we will miss seeing Ben around here every day, but we know he won’t be going far. Donna and I want to wish him and his wife, Ann, a happy, relaxing and well-deserved retirement and thank him for his many years of service to our state.”

As state senator, Nevers served District 12, which includes Washington Parish.

“It has been an incredible honor to serve the people of Louisiana, from my position on the school board, to the legislature and now for Gov. Edwards,” Nevers said. “There are some very real challenges facing the state of Louisiana, but I know this governor has the best interest of the people of our state at heart. After all these years, I’m looking forward to spending more time with my wife, our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

“I’ve been so blessed to serve the people of this state for so many years, and I’m looking forward to seeing great things from this governor and his team in the future.”

Nevers was a popular and calming influence at the state capitol, said Senate President John Alario.

“Ben’s ever calming, steady and caring voice will be missed at the state capitol,” Alario said. “Throughout his years of service as a school board member, state legislator and then as the governor’s chief of staff, Ben has earned the respect and friendship of his colleagues, staff and constituents. He has always been dedicated to giving Louisiana’s hardworking families the tools they need to improve themselves, their communities and their state. His public service will be truly missed.”

Nevers served in the Louisiana Legislature from 2000 to 2016, first as a member of the Louisiana House of Representatives, then as a member of the Louisiana Senate until his retirement last year. Prior to his time in the legislature, Nevers served on the Bogalusa School Board. He is also the president and CEO of Nevers Electrical and Contracting Company, which he established in 1980.

Nevers is married to Ann Williams Nevers, and together, they have three children, Ben Wayne Nevers Jr., Julie Ann Nevers and James Andrew Nevers; six grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

Cooper, originally from Bossier City, will assume the role of chief of staff for the Office of the Governor in the spring. Currently employed as senior director of global emergency management at Walmart in Bentonville, Ark., Cooper served as the director of the GOHSEP for the State of Louisiana from 2008-2011.

“I couldn’t be happier to have Mark join our team,” Edwards said. “He brings a wealth of knowledge about our state to this role, and I know he’ll be an invaluable asset to our state. Mark’s managerial experience will be useful as we continue to lead Louisiana on a path to prosperity. I look forward to working with him, and I know the people of Louisiana will be well-served with Mark advocating on their behalf.”

In the interim, Matthew Block, executive counsel to Edwards, will serve as acting chief of staff.