Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Response from Maria Chappelle-Nadal, U.S. House Candidate

1. What do you view as the key role, and/or attributes needed for this position? What experience/attributes do you have that qualify you for this position? 

As a U.S. Representative, I think it is very important to place all priorities of residents before any personal interests. The people come first, period. In order to do this effectively, a representative must be willing to listen to all sides of an issue, which means we must listen to the individual narratives of residents. In the last several years, I have learned the importance of building bridges, defending the values of residents and being proactive. It is simply not good enough to vote right. Our responsibility is to also work to negotiate and study policy to benefit residents of the 1st congressional district. Most of all, a U.S. Representative must be present when it is most important. No crisis should have an absent representative.

2. Why do you think you are the best person for this position? What differentiates you from your opponent(s)?

I am very active in my community. It is my belief that grassroots engagement is how elected officials can make the best decisions. My practice is to serve inside and outside of my legislative duties. I chose to serve as a school board member in my local community because we needed someone who was willing to challenge the process. I am always willing to make sausage. However, that means we must dedicate ourselves to knowing the weeds of an issue. What distinguishes me from my opponent is that I am willing to take political risks on behalf of the residents I represent. My role is not to be the most popular person or most accepted person, my goal is to stand up for people whose voices are left unheard. Lastly, I always come home.

3. What do you feel are the most pressing issues currently facing this office and what plans do you have to address these issues? (please be specific)

There are multiple issues that we are facing in the 1st congressional district. For me, radioactive waste contamination is at the top of the list. If we do not have our health, everything else is impossible. We must deal with crime, policing and alternative sentencing. There are too many people who are losing their rights due to a system that is set up against them. We must deal with vacant and abandoned homes that are scattered in many corners of the district. While we have plentiful housing stock, there are still too many homeless people. Some of the victims we see are veterans. We must find a way to address the issue of vacant housing, homelessness and veterans services simultaneously. Furthermore, St. Louis is in dire need in upgrading our infrastructure. In many cases, our infrastructure is between 60 and 80 years old. It is not wise to continue to ignore the necessity of upgrading our roads, water systems, gas pipes and electrical facilities.

4. Describe how you work with, or will work with, others to address your priorities.

I have a very simple policy when it comes to working with others and sharing policy concerns. One, as a state senator, I have met regularly with municipal elected officials. When there are important issues we need to address, I ensure we have open communication. It is my belief that local elected officials are very important in understanding what is happening at the grassroots. Again, as a senator, I have quarterly meetings and if necessary we meet more often. In the last 6 months alone, I’ve held over 40 townhall meetings in the district I represent now. Also, I have breakfast meetups with the people I represent on weekends to hear from them and understand their issues.

5. Who are your 3 largest campaign contributors? Are there donors from whom you will not accept campaign contributions?

My largest contributors are Charlie and Naomi Ruth Deutsch, Ron and Donna Fredman, Sandy Tsai and the Citizens Concerned About Missouri PAC. I will not accept contributions from the pay day/rent-to-own industry, Koch brothers, waste management companies, debt collectors, Wall Street or the private prison industry.

6. Since the shooting death of Michael Brown and the national rise of the Black Lives Matter Movement, criminal justice reform has become a national topic of conversation, yet few changes have been made on a national level. If elected, will you make criminal justice reform, and racial equity, a priority in Washington? If so, how?

My life has completely changed since the shooting of Mike Brown. From Day One, I was on the scene attending to the needs of a distressed community. My service changed because of the events in August 2014. I advocate for second chancers, single mothers and the many victims of our judicial system. I was tear-gassed for 3 ½ hours on a one-way street with my intern and a young minister. There were at least 150 young people that surrounded us on the evening ofAugust 11th, the first day of tear-gassing. I witnessed a 6-month pregnant woman forced face down to the ground as rubber/wooden bullets were fired along with 20-year old tear gas canisters. I never want to revisit this time period ever again.

One of the reasons I feel my service is different from my opponent is because I was present. I am always present. I listen. I hug. I hold grown men cry. Little girls and boys hold my hands for security. In my service, I give all of who I am whether my actions are popular or not. The people I serve always come first, no matter what.

Legislatively, I have filed multiple bills dealing with police brutality, body cameras and upgrading our deadly force statutes. I’ve filed legislation ensuring individuals are able to sue in state court for constitutional guarantees that are taken away.

Let me clear. Before there was #BlackLivesMatter, there was #Ferguson. Before #Ferguson, there was the Normandy School District losing accreditation. In all this time, and for decades, there was radioactive waste contamination causing the death of children, mothers and fathers. For too long these issues went unaddressed. In my advocacy, I keep each issue front and center constantly reminding my colleagues what my version of sanctity of life means to me. Michael Brown attended an unaccredited school district. He was a victim of predatory policing. Mike Brown was failed on many levels. In Washington, my advocacy for social and economic equity will continue. I will remain loud and proud.

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