Kathleen Cates is a member of the Democratic Party running for New Mexico House of Representatives District 44. Her campaign site is voteforkathleen.com.

Corrales Comment: What qualifies you to run for New Mexico House of Representatives?

Cates: I know my community very well. I’ve worked in my community as an executive for nonprofits. I’m a member of the Chamber. I’ve been officer in Rotary and worked with Civitan and Kiwanis clubs. I have advocated for individuals with disabilities as well as some veterans and environmental groups with local governments and the legislatures. I’ve had laws passed at the legislature by being able to work on both sides of the aisle and getting it through.

I understand how the structure of the community is and I very much know my community. I’m a homeowner. I’ve operated businesses. And I’m a parent whose children went through public school. So I’m very much invested in this community and am known.

Have I ever been in elected position? No, but that might be a good advantage. But I am also not going in ignorant of the governmental system. I have been working with our local municipalities and our state Legislature for years to advocate for accessibility for people with disabilities, employment opportunities, environmental concerns and appropriate funding for those programs.

What do you feel is the most relevant issue facing Sandoval County and Corrales today?

Sandoval County is the fastest growing county in the state. I believe that we need representation in the Roundhouse that understands that and can work—not just spending their capital outlay, but actually work—on budget investment at a line-item level. We have many different opportunities for that between improving roads and expanding broadband. We have the third largest solar farm in the state that has just been approved up in Rio Rancho. We have tons of land that we can look into for those investments. We have a great opportunity with our new Career Technical Education (CTE) Center—our trade school that’s going in for the Rio Rancho public school system—which is very exciting.

Because of all this opportunity, we have an influx of money for investment. We have the opportunity of growing our economy without jeopardizing our environment by diversifying our revenue streams and expanding our investments in alternative energy right now. There is a lot of land in Sandoval that could be developed. We know that there’s a lot of occupations that can be done now from home. There’s no place more beautiful than Sandoval County, but we need to make sure that we have the support and the broadband and the energy level to be able to accommodate that without an intense water-based business.

We just got the third largest solar farm in the state approved through Rio Rancho City Council. They’re putting that in, and already, corporations from across the country are looking to move to Sandoval County, because they know they can plug into that energy source.

If we can increase broadband out into those areas while using alternative energy sources, we can build our economy by attracting medical providers and small business that are not reliant on large amounts of water.

I would be a strong supporter in protecting what I think is so unique and special about Corrales. Corrales needs to stay the agricultural community and village that it is. That’s what makes it so special. I understand that economic growth is important up the hill, but we need to do it without jeopardizing our neighbors in Corrales. I don’t want any more water-based industries.

If you win, what do you hope to accomplish in the coming year?

I have a great concern about voter suppression that is happening, because I’ve spent my career advocating for individuals with disabilities. I feel very much that this is attacking our disabled veterans and individuals with disabilities by trying to remove dropboxes, decreased voting sites, making it more difficult to vote.

Currently, Rio Rancho got rid of voting sites in the Senior Center in Meadowlark. An entire industry has been built around that senior center so that people can walk. And they walked to vote, but not anymore. Voting went away. So voter suppression is a big thing.

I also want to make sure that we are getting adequate water for agricultural business in Corrales. We have a broken 100-year old-siphon that we need to address through the [Middle] Rio Grande Water Conservatory. I did ride alongs with the Corrales police and the fire chief and am very much impressed with what they’re doing for their community. But I feel like there’s some investments there as well that could help support those efforts. I will definitely go to the Roundhouse and protect women’s reproductive rights here in the state.

I care about environment, infrastructure investment and human rights.

What concerns do you feel are uppermost in the minds of the constituency?

Right now I’m actually knocking on doors in all of District 44, and it’s wonderful to be able to learn more about my district and learn about the concerns of the constituents. I have heard a variety of issues that they are concerned about: The PRC’s removal of allowing individual residents to be able to earn a small amount of revenue by turning back the meter with their own solar investments. I’m hearing that in some rural areas, emergency services may not understand how to access them as well as they should. I want to improve that as well. I hear a great deal from people concerned about this voter suppression. People are definitely worried about protecting reproductive rights and women’s ability to decide if and when they become parents.

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