Kathleen M. Cates, Candidate for House District 44, as told to June Anglin, DPSC
Kathleen M. Cates is a first-time candidate running for the NM House of Representatives District 44. A longtime resident of the area, she has been a business owner, homeowner, nonprofit executive, and a volunteer for various community issues.
Kathleen is a member of the Developmental Disability Council and has been the CEO of two nonprofit organizations as well as a frequent officer of the Rio Rancho Sunrise Rotary. She has advocated for the interests of women with mental and substance diagnoses, individuals with disabilities seeking job opportunities, and children in need of special considerations. Her two children attended Rio Rancho Public Schools.
We interviewed Kathleen on a sunny spring morning at the Flying Star. Her energy was as invigorating as the coffee.
How has your professional advocacy for individuals with disabilities affected you?
I have several loved ones who have different abilities. As a parent I may think I know what is best for my loved ones but as a professional advocate I need to listen first. It is profoundly important to recognize that the people we serve are adults who merit independence and dignity. To best serve them, the ability to be respectful toward them is foundational.
Secondly, I learned about leadership. In the for-profit sector, in my youth, I learned that leaders may have great vision. For-profit leaders need their vision to be executed.
But when you work in the nonprofit sector or government, you must consider all the different perspectives of the people you serve. That experience taught me to be flexible and adaptable. In the nonprofit sector, I learned the importance of team building and teamwork.
I learned that leadership also is patience. Vision is best grounded in an ability to seek shared solutions over time.
As a member of the New Mexico State Legislature, what do you wish to accomplish?
I want to harmonize a vision for the future with the reality of New Mexico. We need to avoid a “poor state” mentality that can hold us back. New Mexico has more funds in our permanent fund than Texas or Colorado even though we have a smaller population. We are an exceptional state because of our diversity. But we need to invest more in all our cultures to ensure everyone’s talents can be a resource for New Mexico.
I will support the Early Childhood Amendment that will use a small portion of our Permanent Fund to build a foundation for children. This education can start as early as three years old for urban and rural children, those with English as a Second Language (ESL), and those from households with diverse incomes. It is essential in building a more stable New Mexico.
New Mexico’s permanent fund is more robust than such funds in many other states. We need to use some of the interest from that fund, and perhaps even some principal, to build a stable foundation so that our assets are not depleted, and our revenue sources are diverse to accommodate the volatility of a market.
Solar and wind farms, lands for the hospitality industry, and revenue for film locations are other ways we can add to our state’s economy. Our land is our greatest asset. Our economy needs the oil, gas, and timber industry, but we are not stable if we rely only on these non-renewable assets.
All that said, the fact is that I will work hard like a dog in whatever position I serve, on whatever committee I am assigned. I grew up in a tradition of public service, and I look forward to working for the people of New Mexico.
How can Democrats best counteract the Republicans’ misleading messaging?
We need to be forceful, but not angry. We need to engage and speak up when we hear misinformation. Politely provide the factual information. Do not be silent.
How can Democrats involve the youth in politics?
Use youth as staff whenever possible. Offer them paying jobs. Listen to them. They have great ideas. We need their ideas.
As your District 44 representative, I will listen to residents’ concerns, I will reflect the voices of the community, and I will function as a bridge builder to negotiate suitable results.
If you live in HD 44, I hope I can count on your vote. Please go to my website to learn more about me. Also, please donate and volunteer. You don’t have to live in HD 44 to support my campaign!