“We help women run for office, and win”: Q&A with Run Vote Lead’s Beth Peterson

October 15, 2021 5:59 am

Beth Peterson is Minnesota state director of Vote Run Lead.

Before running for Eveleth City Council, Beth Peterson connected with Vote Run Lead,   a national organization that provides training, networking and other tools to encourage women to run for office. She won and served a single term. Now she’s the state director for Vote Run Lead in Minnesota. She talked to the Reformer about her own interest in running, the organization’s goals and why we need more women at all levels of elective office. 

Tell us about your own campaign for Eveleth City Council. 

It took a lot of folks to ask me to run for office, and that’s what studies show, that it takes seven to nine times for a woman to be asked to run for office before she does.  

I had a great support network and I had done the Vote Run Lead training, which gave me the tools and the network I needed to make that run, so I did run for office, I won, and I served one term, and I’m really proud of the work I did. At the time, I was the only woman on the council and the only person under the age of fifty.

Vote Run Lead talks about “knowing your why,” as in, why you want to run for office. Why did you run for office?

Being an Iron Ranger and young mother and watching the policies that were being developed at the time, the council did not represent me. It did not make policies that represented the family that I had and my life experiences. I had been laid off, I had a young family, I had kids in the school district, and so I wanted to run to make sure that diversity did exist on that council.

Would you ever run for office again?

Yeah, absolutely. I’ll just leave it at that. Yes, I would run for office again when the right position comes forward.

Why did you start to work for Vote Run lead? 

Peterson: I believe, just like Vote Run Lead, that we need a reflective and inclusive democracy to help us make the best solutions for our state. So Vote Run Lead is looking to shift the Minnesota Legislature to majority women in 2024, and we’re also looking at being as inclusive as possible, so I work with women all across the state — women of color, Indigenous, rural women, urban women to really make sure that dynamic and diverse voices are at the State Capitol making state policy.

Why do you think diversity is important? 

Peterson: We know that women are the leaders that we need — that our diverse life experiences and our different journeys provide different qualifications and different solutions for problems that we face today. Our diverse life experiences make us the experts that we need to drive solutions at all levels of government.

Is there anything I didn’t ask that you think I should have? 

Peterson: We help women run for office, and win, and we’re really good at it. In 2020, we had 310 alumna run for local and federal office, and 54% of those women won, and 71% of women of color won. So again, we have the tools, we have the knowledge, we have the ability to help women run for office and win.

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Anna Koenning
Anna Koenning

Anna Koenning is a reporting intern for the Reformer. She covered international news for Madrid-based El Independiente and works as a barista when she isn't at the Reformer or in class at the University of Minnesota, where she studies journalism, Spanish and political science.