Science

A series tracking five scientists who are running for office.

Q&A: 'It’s important to have scientific voices heard at all levels of government'

Shaughnessy Naughton speaks to scientists, engineers, doctors and others with technical backgrounds who are contemplating a run for political office. (314 Action)
Shaughnessy Naughton speaks to scientists, engineers, doctors and others with technical backgrounds who are contemplating a run for political office. (314 Action)

Few people understand the challenges scientists face when they run for office as well as Shaughnessy Naughton. She has done it herself not once but twice.

In 2014 and again in 2016, Naughton campaigned for a congressional seat in eastern Pennsylvania, touting her experience as a researcher who helped develop drugs for breast cancer and infectious diseases. Although she had to set that career aside to help out her family’s struggling publishing business, she continued to make the case that her scientific background would be an asset in Washington.

Neither of Naughton’s campaigns got very far; she lost both times in the Democratic primary. But she found that scientists rallied behind her candidacy. So she switched gears and founded 314 Action to help elect candidates with backgrounds in science, engineering, technology and math.

The Times caught up with Naughton during a recent visit to Orange County to talk about the growing interest in mixing science with politics.

What is the 314 Action’s mission?

To elect more people with scientific and technical backgrounds to public office at all levels of government.

Why is that important?

Right now there really is a dearth of people with scientific and technical backgrounds at all levels of government. We see that reflected in priorities in legislation and the failure to act on climate change. That would change if we had more technically minded people in office.

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