Fire captain fights to keep House seat

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Fire captain fights to keep House seat

Emily Kane looked harried as she left Fire Station One in downtown Albuquerque.

“Sorry, we were working out with tires,” said Kane, who is running for re-election in House District 15.

Kane, 58, had been flipping tires in order to stay in shape for her day job, captain of the Albuquerque Fire Department.

A Democrat, Kane faces Sarah Maestas Barnes in November to retain her position. District 15 includes Los Ranchos de Albuquerque and the North Valley of Albuquerque.

Freshman year
Kane said she already understood the political system when she began her first term in 2012. As a citizen, she started the introduction of a bill that raises the New Mexico firefighter death benefit for firefighters who die in the line of duty. The bill, sponsored by Kane, was signed into law last session by the governor.

“Involving a lot of people in these pieces of legislation – that is the important part of creating good legislation,” she said. “I trust it, I believe in it. I believe it works.”

Other bills that Kane sponsored during her first term include an act prohibiting former statewide elected officials from accepting compensation as lobbyists for a period of two years after their service, a memorial requesting that workers compensation study the disability impact of post traumatic stress disorder on first responders and a bill that requires the posting of information about the national human trafficking resource center hotline, according to New Mexico Legislature’s website.

Kane said state representatives give every piece of legislation due process, even though she says the process is “painstakingly slow.”

“You have to work through 10 bad bills to for every good one,” she said. “You can’t make a snap decision with every piece of legislation.”

Independent Voters
Kane said it is important to allow independent voters to be able to participate in primary elections. She and State Sen. Bill O’Neil (D) co-sponsored legislation that would open primary election participation to Decline to State (DTS) and independent voters for 2015.

Currently, only voters registered as Republican or Democrat are able to vote in the primaries. About 240 thousand New Mexican’s are currently registered as DTS.

“I don’t think it’s a partisan issue,” she said. “Young voters don’t often feel as included in the (election) process. They’re not ready to say, ‘This is how I want to vote.’”

Sen. O’Neil said that he has been glad to see Kane working in District 15 since he helped recruit her to run for her first term.

“I really like working with Rep. Kane,” he said. “She has such a unique background. The more diverse we are, the better we are as a legislature.”

One reason Kane said she moved to Albuquerque from Taos, NM was the hope of finding a better education for her and her husband’s four children. She now says Albuquerque Public School system has been a disappointment.

She said APS grew too big, exceeding its ability to be productive. Kane says a major goal of the school system needs to be smaller class sizes.

“When you have a group that gets so large, you have an anonymous student,” she said. “Smaller groups create identity and cohesiveness in classes.”

She said there needs to be an internal process of change in order to reach goals of smaller class sizes and different school structures.

“I’m hoping they get some intelligent people together,” she said. “A nice cross section of parents, students, a 3rd party consultant – and teachers, for sure. They are the boots on the ground.”

Kane is in favor of spending money on early childhood education, especially to help working families. She said that working parents often do not have the luxury of being able to help their children with school work.

“Teaching children to learn and to study would really help parents – would be really good socially,” she said. “Especially when often grandparents are putting kids to bed.”

Fire department
Kane’s first public servant job began in 1991 working for the Bernalillo County Fire Department. After 10 years with BCFD, she transferred to AFD, working her way up the ranks for 13 years.

“I was looking for something I could do so I could put food on the table and raise kids,” she said. “Then I discovered I was good at it.”

Kane said her work with the fire department had always been her sanctuary. She said working with the department taught her to handle emergencies, team building skills and how to manage people.

“I learned all kinds of specialty rescues,” she said. “There really is zooks amount of class work.”

One disciple Kane has focused on is rescuing people from swift water, like the many flooded arroyos in the Albuquerque area.

“Water rescue is a passion of mine,” she said. “I would like nothing more than to be on a boat the rest of my life,” she said.

After learning that first responders become victims themselves when attempting swiftwater rescue, she has made it one of her missions to learn everything she can to train police and fire personnel in safe in effective and safe rescue methods.

Kane said through working at the fire department, medical calls taught her about the importance of avoiding unnecessary E.R. and transportation costs. Kane said she would love to enable legislation creating community medics to be a navigator for people with chronic health conditions to help take healthful actions before costly emergency services are needed.

“Everyone agrees,” Kane said, “we need to do a better job of keeping people healthy. We’ll definitely have something to introduce [next term]. I think it’s the health care of the future for the chronically ill.”[/text_output][share title=”Share this Post” facebook=”true” twitter=”true” google_plus=”true” linkedin=”true” pinterest=”true”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][image type=”none” float=”none” info=”none” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”hover” src=”2936″][text_output]