October 3, 2010

Moody would use business savvy in office

The independent, who built his garage into a small empire, says he understands the challenges facing Maine businesses.

By SCOTT MONROE Morning Sentinel

GORHAM - The old newspaper article hangs on the wall beside a painted mural depicting Moody's Collision Service's 30-year history.

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Independent Shawn Moody delivers his opening remarks at the gubernatorial debate in Fairfield on Wednesday. He says many of the principles he's applied to his business could work in state government.

Michael G. Seamans/Kennebec Journal

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Shawn Moody

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CANDIDATE ON THE ISSUES

Economy: Conduct “exit interviews” on businesses that have closed, relocated or downsized; create incentives for “micro” businesses; promote the “Buy in Maine” campaigns; use technology to put all state spending online and make it easily searchable.

Energy: Pursue wind, hydro, tidal, solar and more; upgrade existing hydro dams with newly designed turbines that use less water pressure; build more offshore wind projects; promote biomass electrical energy via steam-powered turbines.

Education: Require vocational teachers to “work” at least part of the year in their  fields; expand programs in the university system; consolidate classes with decreased enrollment and utilize Web-based technologies; institute merit-pay for teachers based on a comprehensive review.

Health care: Allow residents to purchase health care across state lines; pay health care providers what’s owed to them; update billing systems; create financial incentives that promote healthy behaviors.

Welfare: Transition people from welfare to “workfare” by redeploying some of the “lean” state work force to manage the program.

READ THE LATEST MAINE POLL

PROFILING THE CANDIDATES

This is the fourth in a series of profiles of Maine’s gubernatorial candidates.

9/12: Libby Mitchell-D

9/19: Paul LePage-R

9/26: Eliot Cutler-I

TODAY: Shawn Moody-I

10/10: Kevin Scott-I

CHECK OUT OUR Governor's Race special section

"Moody wins fight for Gorham business," reads the headline in The Courier Free Press of Windham.

The story describes how the 18-year-old Moody had finally prevailed before the town's Board of Appeals to keep his new auto garage business open following a "two-month feud" that left a couple of neighbors upset.

Moody started Moody's Body Shop in October 1977 in a three-bay garage, not knowing he was in violation of town zoning rules. The town's code enforcement officer told him the shop was in a residential zone and an unauthorized "expansion of a nonconforming use."

Moody looks backs and realizes he made a mistake in trying to get the entire neighborhood rezoned commercial. Angry neighbors and passionate supporters made for crowded hearings before the appeals board. Because he was only 18 at the time, "I didn't realize the dynamics of what I was doing," he said.

Board members ultimately voted 4-3 to approve Moody's business rather than rezone the entire area.

"That was a defining moment for me," Moody said recently at his campaign office. "There was a huge outpouring of support from townspeople. I went home that night indebted to the community. It was like a light bulb went on -- it's all about people, and you do what you can to give back."

Thirty-two years later, Moody has built his little garage into a small empire with five locations in southern Maine. He sold his company's auto recycling business to a national corporation for millions of dollars.

Amid a slumping economy and gaping state budget shortfalls, Moody said he decided he wasn't content to sit on the sidelines. He's running as an independent for governor.

It's a long shot.

In The Maine Poll, conducted last week for MaineToday Media by the Portland research firm Critical Insights, Moody was supported by 5 percent of likely voters surveyed, about where he stood two weeks before. Democrat Libby Mitchell and Republican Paul LePage were in a statistical dead heat with 30 percent and 29 percent, respectively. Independents Eliot Cutler and Kevin Scott had 9 percent and zero percent, respectively.

Moody, 50, remains upbeat.

He says he's gaining momentum in an unpredictable race with his message of running state government as he's run his business: efficiently, with a focus on customer and employee satisfaction and collaboration.

"I think Shawn's in a really good position now," said Dennis Bailey, a political consultant for Moody who earlier this year worked on the primary campaign of Democrat Rosa Scarcelli. "He's got nowhere to go but up. The question is: How far up can he go?"

DISCOVERING PASSION FOR CARS

Moody grew up in a small Cape-style house with a detached two-car garage on Narragansett Street, a short distance from his current campaign headquarters.

His parents, Ann and Chip, divorced when he was about 18 months old. His father relocated to Massachusetts but stayed in contact with the family, which included Shawn's older brother and sister, Thad and Kim.

That left his mother, a self-employed hairdresser, to raise the children. She worked long hours and sacrificed a lot, Moody said.

Moody said he worshipped his brother and sister growing up, and relied on them as role models.

Thad Moody, who now lives in the original family house, is vice president of operations at Moody's Collision Centers. Kim Moody teaches nursing at the University of Southern Maine in Gorham and works at Maine Medical Center in Portland. Ann Moody lives at the Inn At Village Square, an assisted-living center in Gorham.

(Continued on page 2)

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Shawn Moody grew up in Gorham and started working on cars at 14.

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