Shawn Moody, founder of Moody’s Collision Centers, a Maine chain of auto body repair shops, is among four Republicans seeking the GOP nomination for governor.
In 2010, Moody ran unsuccessfully for governor as an unenrolled candidate. He graduated from Gorham High School.
Maine Public’s Mal Leary asked Moody what sets him apart from the field:
Leary: There are three other candidates in this race, and many of them are promoting the same ideas. What specific proposal or proposals make you different from your primary opponents?
Moody: Well, I think it’s life’s experience — 40 years of being a businessman, we actually have to apply the things that they talk about. I’ve been on the receiving end of government for 40 years. So I think that’s a big difference. You know, health care costs go up, we have to put wellness programs into place, HSA programs. We actually became self-insured this year because our health care premiums are going to crest a million dollars. So we experience the policies that are driven from Augusta in our business, in our personal lives. And everybody I’ve talked to out there, they want someone that’s grounded, that’s a Mainer, that’s been in business, got a good track record to solve some of the state’s challenges, because I’ve been experiencing government like them — from the top down.
Leary: What’s the biggest challenge facing Maine and what could you do as governor to address it?
Moody: I think it’s twofold: No. 1, you know we’ve got to continue to be fiscal managers. I think Gov. Paul LePage has done a good job getting our fiscal house in order. He paid off the hospitals, which is $750 million. The unemployment rate has gone down. I mean, that’s not all, obviously, the governor’s doing. But the national economy has improved. So we’re down to what you could call, basically, full employment. So we got some positive things happening here in Maine economically and we’ve got to continue to keep our costs down, look at ways that we can reduce the size and scope of the state government, but at the same time grow our economy. In some areas of the state there’s not enough people to do the work, other areas need more businesses that provide good-paying jobs. And I’ve traveled the whole state and I know the difference between the two. So I would start kind of a migration — not immigration but migration — strategy to bring former Mainers back to the state of Maine, reunite their families and revitalize our rural communities. Because people need talent, and so if we can get the 25- to 45-year-old former Mainers come back and raise families here in the state of Maine, we could offer tuition reimbursement if they want to continue their education, student loan forgiveness programs. The governor’s got a bill now to try to put a bond to do something to that effect. I think that’s critical. We just can’t let this population decline, our aging demographic. Those are the two critical areas that we need to address.
Leary: Polls continue to show that jobs are the biggest concern, even though we got pretty low unemployment rate now. What could you do as governor to improve the economy?
Moody: Well, we’re 48th in “business friendly.” When I started my business at 17, I went down to the town office and took out a building permit: It was $35, and we started the job the next day. We’re siting a new shop in South Portland right now: permits, fees and approvals will cost $60,000, and it will take longer to permit the project than it will actually to build it. We know what needs to happen to ease the regulatory burden and the tax burden. We’ve got to get government to be a willing partner, not an inhibitor.
Leary: Maine voters will use ranked-choice voting for the first time in this primary. Assuming you rank yourself as No. 1, who’s your No. 2, three and four?
Moody: Well, that’s a good assumption - No. 1. I would say, me personally, I’m just going to go in and mark one vote.
This interview has been edited for clarity. For a longer version of this interview, aired as part of a Public Affairs special program, click here. For more on Moody’s stances on the issues, and other Republicans in Maine’s gubernatorial race, click here. Visit our Your Vote 2018 page for more elections resources and information.