Inside the mind of Emily Beach, congressional candidate for California’s 14th District

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Courtesy of Emily Beach for Congress

Burlingame councilmember Emily Beach announced her campaign for Congress in November 2021.

Jackson Spenner, Senior Reporter

Burlingame City Councilmember Emily Beach has spent the last decade getting to know the Burlingame community. Now, she’s ready to represent their values on a national level.

California’s 14th District (CA-14) — which includes San Mateo County and a small portion of San Francisco — has an important decision to make over the course of the next year. The November midterm elections are approaching quickly, and CA-14’s representative Jackie Speier is stepping down, leaving an open seat in the United States House of Representatives. 

On Nov. 12, Speier announced her retirement with a two-minute video thanking her constituents for their support throughout her four-decade career in public service. Ten days later, Beach took to Twitter to announce her candidacy for Speier’s seat in Congress. On Dec. 1, Beach formally launched her campaign, writing on Twitter, “Congresswoman [Speier] is leaving big shoes to fill, and I will strive to build upon her legacy.”

Now, more than a month after venturing into national politics, Beach is deep into the throes of a campaign. She’s raising money — according to her team, over $275,000 in December — meeting with residents and strengthening her relationship with the local community. The posters on Beach’s desk speak for her values: one reads “United Against Hate”; another, “We Can Do It” — the famous Rosie the Riveter catchphrase. 

“I’m ready for this — I think I really have something valuable to offer,” Beach said. “I think all of my life experience leading up to now has really prepared me to take this leap.”

Beach’s career resembles something of a winding road; in her view, she’s most prepared for Congress because she hasn’t been in politics her whole life. In fact, she started her career in the military, where she spent 13 months in South Korea and six in Saudi Arabia. 

“I learned a lot about working with teams and different kinds of people from all walks of life,” Beach said. “As an army officer, you never ask your soldiers to do anything you wouldn’t do yourself.”

After four years in the military, Beach settled in San Mateo County and soon began her work in public service. She worked on the Burlingame Community Education Foundation’s (BCE) Board of Directors from 2011 to 2015. Beach was elected to the Burlingame City Council in 2015, and has served there since. 

Burlingame’s mayoral title cycles between council members every year, and Beach held the position in 2020. As the COVID-19 pandemic took the world by storm, Beach was quick to act, and Burlingame was the first city in the county to hold a virtual town hall meeting amid the early chaos. 

“It was within like a week of shelter in place happening, and it was so well attended. We had, I don’t know, at least 100 people logged in,” Beach said. 

According to Beach, she values this kind of constituent outreach deeply. Since she was elected in 2015, she has regularly held “constituent coffee and conversations” at Il Piccolo Caffe and Copenhagen Bakery & Cafe, two of Burlingame’s local cafes. 

“Sometimes 20 people would show up, sometimes 10, sometimes three. But I always had an open door,” Beach said.

The relationships Beach has built with the community are central to her campaign for the U.S. House of Representatives.

“More than ever, we need to send people to Washington who actually can relate to people of different cultures and different regions,” Beach said. “And I think that’s a superpower that I bring through my lived experience.”