About Beth


As a progressive activist, community organizer and a mother of two, I am excited about the opportunity to represent the 22nd Legislative District for a second term.

Because of my experience working on civil and environmental justice, I recognize that our legislature makes the key decisions that shape our community and our common future. The 22nd District needs experienced and dedicated representation.  

I have spent the last thirty years in training to take on the trust and aspirations of my community, to secure a thriving, sustainable, just and compassionate future for us all. 

I grew up in Kankakee, a small town in Illinois. My parents were public school educators and the first generation to graduate from college.  My grandfathers earned their living mining coal.  

My mother taught me the value of service and good government as an active League of Women Voters leader in our town.  At a very young age, I joined my mom going door to door encouraging voters to create a public health department.  I will never forget my 10-year-old excitement waiting for the vote return at the County Court House!  In high school, I helped my mother and older sister work to pass the Equal Rights Amendment through the Illinois legislature.  We failed, but that experience kindled my passion for activism. 

While attending Indiana University, I formed a campus chapter of Young Democrats and landed an internship on Frank McCloskey’s 1986 nationally targeted Congressional race in the 8th District. McCloskey squeaked to victory and hired me to work as a caseworker in his office while I finished my degree.  In the evenings, I worked on two successful local races – city council and mayor  -  and earned enough money to buy a one-way ticket to the Pacific Northwest in late 1987.  I was drawn to the sheer beauty of the Northwest and had dreams of climbing many mountains.

Diving into Northwest Progressive campaigns:

I landed in Seattle and leaped into the Washington State political scene as the State Director for Paul Simon for President.  I then did organizing for Washington State SANE/FREEZE and served on the field team of Jolene Unsoeld for Congress (1988 and 1990).  

In 1991, I was hired as the Executive Director of the fledgling Washington Conservation Voters.  With $50,000 in seed money, I worked over the next three years to create a year round PAC, build membership, develop 15 chapters, and launch a non-profit voter education project.  

In 1995, I went to work at the National Abortion Rights Action League.  I focused on electing Adam Smith, who won and displaced an anti-choice incumbent.  Over the next few years, I gained experience in the public, private sectors and non-profit sectors, working for Seattle Public Utilities, Telcordia Technologies, and Audubon Washington.    

Cherishing family and supporting local schools:

In 2004, just after my son Aspen was born and Ian was in Kindergarten, I focused my energy on being a full time mom.  My wonderful boys are now 11 and 16. I have been married to my husband, Eddy Cates for 20 years.  He is a family practice physician at Pioneer Family Practice in Lacey serving the greater Thurston County area.  

During this time, I co-chaired the successful Olympia Parks and Sidewalks campaign. Worked with the Washington Toxics Coalition to reduce the use of pesticides in local parks and school playgrounds and volunteered at Roosevelt Elementary in the classroom and on the PTA.

Leading the campaign to Power Past Coal:

I joined Climate Solutions in 2007 and have been the Director of the Power Past Coal campaign since its inception five years ago.   This campaign has mobilized over 17,000 people to attend hearings around the region opposing the export of coal through our communities en route to Asia and supporting a just and rapid transition to a clean energy economy. 

Over the years, I have volunteered countless hours in the social service sector with Solid Ground and Noel House Homeless Shelter, on international development in Nicaragua, various environmental organizations, as an advocate for parks and sidewalks and in my children’s elementary school.

I welcome your support as I run to represent the 22nd legislative district for a second term.