Kevin Cooper, Vice President of Communications and Strategic Initiatives for Mote Marine Laboratory and a retired Army Sergeant, is running for the Sarasota Memorial Hospital Board, Seat 2.
Cooper is an executive committee member of the Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance Board of Directors and previously served as President and CEO of the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce. He also previously chaired the Sarasota County Planning Commission.
At least four hospital board seats will be up for a vote this year in Sarasota County. Cooper officially launched his bid Thursday.
“It’s about ensuring the highest quality care for Sarasota County residents,” said Cooper, whose two children were born at Sarasota Memorial Hospital. “Health care is extremely personal and we simply cannot do enough to recruit the best and brightest medical professionals in the country to help those in our community who find themselves in need of our services.”
Cooper has lived in Sarasota County since 2008. Prior to that, he served as a Specialist in the Ohio Army National Guard, during which time he was deployed to Al-Taqaddum Air Base in Iraq’s Anbar province, which was later recognized as the most dangerous place on planet earth at that time in 2004.
He served as a convoy security operator during that Operation Iraqi Freedom mission, supporting U.S. Marines and other forces during conflicts in Fallujah. He received a battlefield promotion to Sergeant and received multiple awards, including the Army Commendation Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and the Joint Meritorious Unit Award.
Cooper has also been an avid volunteer in Sarasota County, including prior service to the Suncoast Partnership to End Homelessness and the Sarasota County Affordable Housing Advisory Committee. He currently serves on the Hope City Church Dream Team, hosting weekly services and assisting with security.
“Sarasota County has been an absolute blessing for me in so many ways. It is the best place in Florida, and the country, to live and raise a family and I will continue to do everything I can to preserve that for current and future generations,” Cooper said.
Cooper earned his bachelor’s degree at Kent State University and his Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from Florida State University.
Cooper is running to replace Tramm Hudson, whose term expires this year.
If elected, Cooper will join a slate of three controversial board members elected in 2022 who were described as the “Health Freedom Slate” because they were skeptical of the hospitals’ handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and overall hospital management, as well as the COVID-19 vaccines.
Sarasota Memorial Hospital is one of about 200 hospitals nationwide run by a publicly elected board. Elections for board member seats are partisan. Cooper is a Republican and is, so far, the only candidate filed for the at large Seat 2.