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Independent candidate Shea Silverman talks about HD 49 race and his self-made game console

Shea Silverman, the lone challenger to Carlos Guillermo Smith in House District 49 this year, is going to be spending this weekend at the Orlando Maker Faire showing off a game console he made himself.

He said he isn’t trying to tie the event to his campaign, but he does hope it will show voters he is 100 percent who he says he is — a consistent candidate.

“The person you see is really me,” he said.

At Maker Faire, he’ll be representing the maker-space he’s a part of, FamiLAB, which specializes in making a variety of technologies. The console Silverman made uses a Raspberry Pi computer, a small device containing a full Linux computer with a number of portable technologies, including an HDMI port to connect to a TV and some Windows 10 apps. It’s made by a UK company with the intent of providing cheap and easy technology to people, so they can learn coding and technological skills.

Silverman says his device hooks up the Raspberry Pi computer to a portable game console. So far, it can play old arcade games, Super NES games like Super Mario World, and also some others on the original PlayStation — but Silverman says he wants to expand it so kids can make their own games.

All of this is in the name of helping to allow everyone to participate in STEM and projects that blend science and art together.

“It’s important to me because I was never good at drawing,” Silverman said. “I got good at creating through programming. This will allow children who want to be creative in this way an easy, non-expensive way to do that.”

The themes of inclusivity, equality, and the outsider allowed a pathway into what was once an inner circle all ring true to Silverman’s House run. He was calm and congenial speaking to, stating that the underlying message and theme of his campaign is the need for outsiders in politics — everyone from the engineer down on to the barista and convenience store worker.

“I’d like to see more professionals, and not just lawyers and people who want to be professional politicians,” he said. “I want to see doctors, lawyers, baristas, those who work in retail. The only way we can be represented is if we have people who experience what common Floridians experience.”

He said he didn’t think either side of the political spectrum was doing enough listening right now, and that the best way to move forward is to come together and realize that everyone has different experiences, and listen to them.

“There’s a stigma in society of being wrong,” he said. “Of failing at what we do. It’s a living experience — try things and fail first, then learn and try something new.”

A self-described “Berniecrat” whose views are more in line with Bernie Sanders‘ democratic socialist vision than to mainstream Democratic views, Silverman said some of his chief policies would be making college more affordable by lowering tuition costs and ending textbooks where one has to pay to access the material, and instituting universal health care in Florida.

Though his opponent, Smith, is well-liked, Silverman didn’t appear discouraged — instead, he reported that he’s been working hard knocking on doors and meeting people at events, including one at the Chickasaw Library recently, where he showed children and their parents some of the technology he works with, like a 3D printer.

“It’s rare to have two progressives running in the same race with no one else running,” he observed. “We’re both progressive liberals. No matter who wins, I think we’ll be in good hands.”

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