There are more than 300 candidates running for the 160 seats in the Florida House and Senate. And, try as we will, FloridaPolitics.com won’t be able to interview all of them. So we are asking every candidate, including incumbents, to complete a questionnaire we believe offers an interesting, albeit, thumbnail sketch of who they are and why they are running. If you are a candidate and would like to complete the questionnaire, email Peter@FloridaPolitics.com.
Today’s candidate spotlight features Shea Silverman, a No-Party Affiliated candidate for House District 49. Here he is in his own words.
Significant other? Kids?
I have a wonderful wife, Kristene, who teaches third grade. We don’t have any kids yet.
Education background? Professional background?
I have a Bachelor’s of Science in Public Administration from the University of Central Florida and I am working on my Masters of Interdisciplinary Studies in e-Learning and Public Management.
My professional background is as a computer programmer/systems engineer. I previously worked for two startups, one in advertising technology, and the other in e-Learning video games. Now I am a team lead at UCF working in the Center for Distributed Learning.
What was your first job?
My first job was working retail at Best Buy in high school. My first professional job was as an intern for Nexland (now owned by Symantec) taking care of quality assurance for our retail networking equipment.
In 25 words or less, why are you running for office?
I want to do some good in my community, my district, and my state. It’s an act of civic duty.
Did you speak with anybody in your political party before deciding on running? Receive any encouragement? From whom?
I do not belong to a party. I have received encouragement from my friends, my family, my neighbors, my professors, and, most importantly, my wife.
Who do you count on for advice?
I count on my wife for the day-to-day advice and my parents for their differing opinions.
Who is your political consultant? Campaign manager?
I do not have either.
Who was the first person to contribute to your campaign? Why did they donate?
After my parents and grandparents, the first person to donate was a good friend. It was very humbling because I had just started my campaign and was just asking for feedback on my website, and he must have liked it and what I stand for because he contributed.
Who, if anyone, inspires you in state government?
The people who inspire me most are the people in the background doing all the actual work: the legislative assistants, sergeant-at-arms, committee analysts, IT staff. They keep everything running.
Why do people mistrust elected officials and what are you going to do about it?
I don’t know if mistrust is the word I would use, I think it’s an apathy of outreach. It feels like once someone is elected, you can’t reach them anymore. Only being able to talk to a legislative assistant can also feel like your concerns and ideas are being brushed off. To combat this, I want to make sure that any constituent can get an appointment on my calendar and speak with me personally.
What are three issues that you’re running on? (You’re not allowed to say education or “improving the schools”)
Lower higher education tuition by removing the nickel-and-diming, such as one-time-use codes in textbooks.
Bring in more competition for internet access to the state, such as Google Fiber, in contrast to our rapidly shrinking cable internet providers.
Get serious about providing and funding mental health care clinics in Florida to those who need it.
What is a “disruptive” issue (i.e. ridesharing) you are interested in?
Municipal internet is a very interesting and successful model that is being tried in other states, where the district offers internet service to its citizens. Because the service is offered like a public utility, costs are lower, infrastructure is upgraded, service levels are faster, and customer satisfaction is high.
What does your legislative district need from Tallahassee?
Our district is home to the second largest university in the nation. We need Tallahassee to limit the rising of tuition costs, and start working on lowering them.
Who was the best governor in Florida’s modern history?
I don’t know if any of them can earn the title of best. I think Charlie Crist did a good job leading Florida.
If you could amend the Florida Constitution, what would you change?
I would remove Article 1, Section 27 entirely and remove the death penalty as an authorized punishment from Article 1, Section 17.
Are yard signs an important part of campaigning in your district?
I don’t see them too often in front of houses, but on University Boulevard driving into UCF and on Alafaya Trail they seem to reproduce. I’ll have some available, but it’s not going to be an important part of my campaign.
What’s the first thing you read each morning?
First I check my email, then I check Facebook messages.
Where do you get your political news?
I check Reddit for my live, up-to-the-minute news, Google Alerts for my Orlando news, and then the Sunburn each morning.
Who do you think will be the next President of the United States?
I have no idea anymore.
60 Minutes or House of Cards?
House of Cards.
Social media presence? Twitter handle?
In 140 characters, what’s a Tweet that best describes your campaign message?
#letteachersbeteachers #fundschoolsfairly #nomoretuitionincreases #healthcareforall #internetforthemasses
I collect and restore classic arcade games, and I build things using my 3D printer.
Favorite sport and sports team?
I’m not a huge sports fan but I love watching the UCF Knights.