Imagine being elected mayor of the 7th largest city in Oregon.  Imagine the world is awash in a pandemic.  Just for fun, throw in record-level homelessness, increasing crime in the state, and evidence of a climate crisis. What do you do? Where do you start? 

As Beaverton’s youngest mayor, Beaty (37), knows a successful mayor is the one who has the relationships necessary to pull those people together and then the ability to share credit.  “Cities are complex,” she says, “and there’s no way that one individual has the power to manage every single thing that a city does.” To accomplish the wide variety of tasks that need doing, the mayor says she depends on citizens to fill committee seats, to show up for meetings, and to bring their perspective to city hall. 

Although she is frequently called upon to deliver simple solutions to some of the most difficult problems the city faces, she cautions that simple one-line answers very rarely work out in the real world.  “People call me and say crime is up, hire more police,” she says, “but that’s not the answer. The jail is over capacity so even if we have more police there’s nowhere to put people.  Also, there is more criminal activity due to COVID and there are a lot of crimes around food insecurity. While the community would love to hear a sound bite that the answer to crime is that we need more police, the truth is that the problem and the answers are more complex than that.”

Growing up she learned to be strong from her single mom who demonstrated what it is to show up every day as her best self. You don’t get there by just seeing what happens next. The best preparation for the really big jobs life throws at you she says is those boring but necessary qualities of discipline and consistency. Having been both an athlete and a combat veteran she has learned is that it is your daily practice that will make or break you.  “Consistency over intensity is what will get you through to that win,” she says, “Every day it’s what are you reading, what are you eating, are you working out.” Because, she says “putting in the work, doing things when you don’t want to do them, and creating the ability to get up, even when it’s hard, is what counts. Doing hard things prepares us for what it takes.”

Much as she continues to rely on the lessons her mother taught her, Beaty says is inspired by her four-year-old daughter. “She keeps me on my toes,” she says, “and I have no control over her.  She’s an independent woman.”  Beaty tells a story about what happened a couple of weeks ago when she was at a campaign event for someone else and she had her daughter with her.  They were going on a playdate afterward.  “In the middle of everything,” Beaty says,” she yells, can the mayor talk now so we can leave?”

Being a mom structures Beaty’s sense about what is important and helps her make the decisions every day that take Beaverton into the future.  “I think about her and about other people’s children, I hear that close-in four-year-old voice in my ear asking why, why, why.  So when I think about climate change, public safety, and housing, I know those decisions are going to affect her. I make those decisions based on the kind of world I want her to grow up in.”

She says women bring important and much-needed values to the world of politics.  It isn’t just about making money or building taller buildings. She encourages other women, particularly young women growing up now, to get into the political arena because through engagement they can change their communities to better mirror their values.  “All government is local,” she says “and the decisions that are made there affect your access to healthcare and the decisions you can make.  Those choices are made by local officials and for so much of the time, they have been made by old men who haven’t had your experiences. They haven’t experienced sexism. When I was running for office people always asked me all the time, how will you manage your child? Nobody asked my infantry officer military husband how are you going to manage your family when he got a promotion.”

When she coaches women getting into politics, she tells them to “make it worth it.  If you’re going to leave your family to go run for office and make change, make it worth it.  Put it all out there so that the time away from your family mattered. Those sacrifices matter,” she says, “and so every time I leave and I make the choice to be in the community and not with my daughter or my husband, I want to make that time count,”

She loves that people call her office looking for her help and she looks forward to working with them to resolve whatever problem they bring to the table but, please, she says, remember that elected officials are people too. “We are going to do amazing things together,” she promises, “If we can start from a place of mutual respect, we’re going to get some really great things done.” She says that civil discourse has gone downhill in recent years and we need to regain the idea that more than one point of view can be valid and everyone deserves respect.

She’s willing to get the ball rolling but it’s going to take a village to keep it going.