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Politically Speaking: Sen. Chappelle-Nadal on radioactive waste, education policy and her legacy

Maria Chappelle-Nadal 2016
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio
Maria Chappelle-Nadal

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio's Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies are pleased to welcome back Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal to the show for the third time.

The University City Democrat was first elected to the Missouri Senate in 2010 and re-elected without substantial opposition in 2014. She will have to leave the Senate after 2018 due to legislative term limits.

Chappelle-Nadal wasn’t on the ballot last Tuesday, though she did unsuccessfully challenge U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay in August’s Democratic primary. While Chappelle-Nadal’s intraparty clash with Clay was unsuccessful, she provided critical financial assistance to a number of successful candidates – including incoming County Councilwoman Rochelle Walton Gray, D-Black Jack, and state Rep.-elect Bruce Franks, D-St. Louis.

Throughout 2014, Chappelle-Nadal was one of the most prominent elected officials involved in the protest movement that came about after Michael Brown’s shooting death. She was fiercely critical of Gov. Jay Nixon’s handling of the crisis. And she also emerged as a political foe of St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger.

Chappelle-Nadal has hosted dozens of town hall meetings regarding radioactive waste issues in her Senate district.An underground fire has been smoldering at the Bridgeton Landfill for years. That fire is right next to the West Lake Landfill, which contains World War II-era nuclear weapons waste. 

Here's what Chappelle-Nadal had to say during the show:

  • Chappelle-Nadal wants Gov.-elect Eric Greitens and Attorney General-elect Josh Hawley to be engaged in the West Lake Landfill situation. "A lot of people don't like to talk about radioactive waste because it's not a sexy issue to talk about," she said. "But this is a pro-life issue. And if there is anyone out there who purports that they are pro-life, they are absolute liars if they don't deal with this issue."
  • With Greitens entering office next year, Chappelle-Nadal expects renewed discussion about overhauling the state's student transfer law. "We are on it. Our staff is on it," she said. "And I want to give children, minority children and low-income children a chance to succeed and thrive so they do not live within a four block radius of a school and not have hope."
  • She said changing Missouri's law regarding deadly force is a significant public policy change, especially after the state's unconstitutional statute received a lot of attention after the shooting death of Michael Brown.
  • Chappelle-Nadal said she's weighing her options for what to do when she terms out of the Missouri Senate. She said she is "absolutely not" running for St. Louis County executive, though she remains critical of Stenger's administration.

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter: @jmannies

Follow Maria Chappelle-Nadal on Twitter: @MariaChappelleN

Music: "Give Up" by American Wrestlers

Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.
Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

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