ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) — The look of relief was clear on fire Capt. Emily Kane's face as a District Court judge ruled her job was not at risk because of her political ambitions.
Kane, a 19-year Albuquerque Fire Department veteran, is a Democratic candidate looking to represent a northwest area of Albuquerque in the New Mexico House. Even running for office had put her in conflict with the city's charter and personnel rules, which prohibit any employee from seeking any political office.
After learning about her campaign, Kane says she received a letter from the city.
"The letter I received said they were contemplating any kind of discipline up to and including termination," Kane said. "So that was pretty serious to me."
Kane was asking the District Court to block any efforts from the city to punish her for running for state representative. She is on the November ballot after winning the primary.
Attorneys representing the city told District Judge Beatrice Brickhouse that the rule is important because it helps prevent conflicts of interest.
In her ruling, Brickhouse said she understood the city's concerns but not in this situation.
"The city does have a valid interest in preventing city employees from holding city elective offices," Brickhouse said. "The city does not have a valid interest in preventing city employees from holding other elective offices."
Brickhouse ruled the part of the Albuquerque's city charter prohibiting city employees from running for or holding political office is unconstitutional, meaning city employees can now run for any political office so long as its not a city office.
"I'm just pleased and proud the judge saw things the way I saw them and actually validated my candidacy," Kane said.
Kane has promised not to campaign on the city's time.
City attorney David Tourek says he's disappointed with the court's ruling but is unsure whether there will be an appeal.
"We're going to study this decision and decide whether to seek review," Tourek said.
This isn't the first time a firefighter has broken the city's ban on employees seeking political office. AFD Capt. Philip Luna was elected as a trustee in Estancia in Torrance County, and Firefighter Ed Torres was a councilman for Bernalillo and ran for mayor of the Sandoval County town.
Neither were disciplined.
Kane's Republican opponent is Christopher Saucedo.
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New Mexico is located in the southwestern region of the U.S. Inhabited by Native American populations for many centuries, New Mexico has also been part of Imperial Spain, part of Mexico, and a U.S. territory.