Governor-elect John Bel Edwards announces more cabinet members

Governor-elect John Bel Edwards announces more cabinet members - 10 p.m.
(Source: WAFB)
(Source: WAFB)

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Governor-elect John Bel Edwards held a news conference Tuesday afternoon to name more cabinet members.

Edwards announced that Dr. Rebekah Gee will serve as secretary for the Department of Health and Hospitals. Current secretary of the state's Department of Public Safety and Corrections, Jimmy LeBlanc, will stay on with Edwards.

Edwards also appointed Johnny Bradberry, a former transportation secretary, as Executive Assistant to the Governor for Coastal Activities. He will also serve as chairman of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority.

Several others were also appointed to Edwards' cabinet as well including Dr. Chuck Brown to Louisiana DEQ and State Fire Marshal Butch Browning, who will remain in his current position. Also a few staff members were also announced Tuesday afternoon.

"I committed to the people of Louisiana that I would put a team in place that looks like the state as a whole. I am certain that we are assembling the team of people best positioned to tackle the challenges we face and put Louisiana first," Edwards said. "It is a privilege to work with these fine public servants and I look forward to all of the great things they will accomplish to make Louisiana an even better state for our children and grandchildren."

Several of the new cabinet members face a daunting challenge heading into their departments. First up for DHH is carrying out the new governor's plan to expand Medicaid. Edwards said he will issue an executive order within 24 hours of taking office to begin the expansion process he hopes will be in place by July 1.

"With Medicaid expansions, Louisianans will no longer be faced with this terrible choice between their health and their financial security," said Gee.

Meanwhile, the newly appointed GOHSEP Director Jim Waskom will transition in the middle of a significant flooding event for the state. Waskom said he'll draw on his experienced with the Louisiana National Guard and helping with other natural disasters to make a seamless transition.

"I'm familiar with when they open the Atchafalaya and the Morganza spillway and what may happen," said Waskom.

For the returning Public Safety secretary, LeBlanc said the biggest challenge ahead is addressing the state's incarceration rates. He added that some progress has been made.

"Our prison population is down 4,160 at the end of this past calendar year. 4,160, that's three big prisons," said LeBlanc.

During a news conference on December 16, Edwards announced the first few members of his cabinet and executive staff for his term.

Edwards' cabinet: 

Commissioner, Division of Administration - Jay Dardenne 
Adjutant General, Louisiana National Guard - Major General Glenn Curtis
Superintendent, Louisiana State Police - Colonel Michael Edmonson
Secretary, Department of Veterans Affairs - Joey Strickland
Secretary, Department of Transportation and Development - Shawn Wilson
Secretary, Louisiana Economic Development - Don Pierson
Secretary, Department of Wildlife and Fisheries - Charlie Melancon
Commissioner, Office of Motor Vehicle - Karen St. Germain
Commissioner, Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control - Juana Marine-Lombard
Secretary, Department of Health and Hospitals - Dr. Rebekah Gee
Secretary, Department of Public Safety and Corrections - Jimmy LeBlanc
Director, Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness - Jim Waskom
Secretary, Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality - Dr. Chuck Brown
Executive Assistant to the Governor for Coastal Activities, Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority Board Chairman - Johnny Bradberry
Executive Director, Louisiana Workforce Commission - Ava Dejoie
Executive Director, Louisiana Offshore Terminal Authority - Senator Robert Adley
State Fire Marshal, Louisiana Office of State Fire Marshal Public Safety Services - Butch Browning
Executive Director, Louisiana Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Criminal Justice - Jim Craft

Edwards' staff:

Executive Counsel - Matthew Block
Special Counsel - Erin Monroe Wesley
Deputy Chief of Staff, Communications, Legal, Special Projects - Julie Baxter Payer
Deputy Chief of Staff, Intergovernmental Affairs - Toye Taylor
Senior Policy Advisor, Governor's Office - Jeanne Johnston
Senior Special Assistant to the Governor - Alicia Williams

Edwards also announced his three appointments to the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) Board on Tuesday.

BESE board members: 

Lurie Thomason Jr., Thomas Roque, Doris Voitier

Inauguration for the new governor will be held on Monday, January 11.

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