The first question any candidate gets asked is “Why are you running for governor?” Here’s my answer.
Although we gathered signatures to get my name on the ballot back in April, we didn’t make the final decision to run until after the primaries. I wanted to see what the field of candidates looked like, and to tell you the truth, I was disappointed in the outcome. I was looking for candidates who had an entrepreneurial spirit and success in owning and operating a small business here in Maine.
Libby Mitchell has been a dedicated public servant in Maine for decades. I admire her understanding and concern for education and her compassion for people who depend on Maine’s social services. But her lack of business and private sector experience is a deep concern.
Paul LePage has an interesting background and, like me, overcame a lot of adversity in his early life. But his ties with groups that want to take an axe to school budgets and our critical social safety nets leave a big question mark in my mind.
As for Eliot Cutler, he’s got an impressive resume in government and law. But I’m not convinced that someone who has spent almost his entire adult life as a bureaucrat and lobbyist in Washington and China can really understand what we’re going through here in Maine.
So that’s why I’m running. I want to use my strong Maine roots, my common-sense compassion and understanding of social needs, and my “open-book management” business experience to help get Maine people working again.
I’m about as Maine as Maine gets. My family grew up in Gorham with roots going back three generations. I’m the youngest of three children. After our parents divorced, Dad relocated out of state but continued to provide support over the years. Our mom was a self-employed beautician who raised us to believe we could become whatever we put our mind to.
My mom struggled with health problems, which is where I get my real-life understanding of social needs. After my siblings Thad and Kim left, I was pretty much on my own at a young age, providing care for Mom and running the household as well as I could.
I can’t really say I was a model student. My interests in high school pretty much started and stopped at cars. At 13, I was working on cars out of mom’s garage. At 15, I rebuilt my first high-performance engine. At 17, I bought a quarter-acre lot for $1,000 and got a bank loan to build a three-bay garage, my first auto body shop. Entering my senior year at Gorham High School. I was a property taxpayer and small business owner with a mortgage of $67.44 a month.
From there, I’m proud to say my life has been blessed. Moody’s Collision Center has grown to become the largest auto collision repair business in New England with 75 employees in five locations. We’ve been recognized nationally and in Maine for our business achievements and our environmental practices. One of my proud-est moments came in 2003, when I converted the company into an Employee Stock Ownership Program (ESOP), giving our workers a 34 percent financial stake in the success of Moody’s Collision Center.
Along the way I met Chris, who later became my wife of 23 years. When we met, she was working with handicapped adults as a caseworker in Goodwill’s Life Skills program. After our four children were born, she returned to school and earned an elementary education teaching certificate and bachelor’s degree from the Univer-sity of Southern Maine.
So now I’m running for governor, to use the same skills and know-how I’ve used to build a successful business and a great family to help build a better Maine for everyone. It’s time for a governor with calluses on his hands who isn’t afraid of hard work and knows what it’s like to build a business here in Maine.
I envision a state that rates in the top percentile nationwide — in education, job growth and quality of life. Let’s be the country’s leader in the way we treat the people and in the responsible, honest and productive way we operate. When we strengthen Maine’s economic, educational and environmental climate, we will fuel growth and prosperity.
I’m a different kind of candidate with a different approach. But something different is exactly what Maine needs right now.
Shawn Moody is an independent candidate for governor.