By Jim Brunner
Seattle Times political reporter
A former top federal public-health official has joined the field of Democratic candidates vying to succeed retiring U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Auburn.
Shannon Hader has spent decades fighting HIV and other global epidemics as a manager at agencies including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
She recently moved back to her former hometown of Auburn to enter the 8th Congressional District race — a nationally watched contest considered key for Democrats’ chances to win a House majority.
Hader’s entry comes as one Democratic rival is ending her campaign: Mortgage-business owner Mona Das said she had no choice given lackluster fundraising.
Like other Democrats in the race — all vying to advance past an August primary to face likely GOP contender Dino Rossi — Hader has never held elected office.
She says she was motivated to run by what she’s witnessed of the Trump administration over the past year.
“On an inside-baseball level, being inside the federal government, you see everything that is being insidiously and covertly dismantled,” Hader said Thursday.
Hader, 49, a physician, served as Director of the Division of Global HIV and TB at the CDC from 2014 until October. She started her career at the agency in 1999, working as an epidemiologist and manager, including a stint in Zimbabwe. Hader also has worked as a health-policy aide to Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass.
While the CDC traditionally has been more protected from political influence than some other parts of government, Hader said she’s seen its mission quietly undermined with a lack of hiring and slowed spending.
She also pointed to news reports that Trump appointees have banned or discouraged CDC managers from using certain words in budget submissions to the White House, including “science-based,” “transgender” and “diversity.”
Hader, who grew up in Auburn, said she’s lived all over the world but “this has been my home the whole time.” Records show she voted in King County from 1988 to 2006 and filed to register again in the county in October.
Hader said what sets her apart from rivals is experience making the federal government work.