Republican Shawn Moody of Gorham hopes that his blue-collar background, his experience building a successful business and his support for vocational and technical education will be put to use in Augusta as he runs for governor in a field of four candidates.

"This is a unique opportunity, as a voter, to actually vote for a blue-collar governor," he said during an interview Sept. 28 at the VillageSoup studio. "And what do we need right now?"

He argues in favor of investing in vocational and technical training to make it the best in the nation as a means of building up our workforce and drawing back 28- to 48-year-old former Maine residents who left the state for better opportunities.

Moody, 58, also called for cuts and consolidation of administrative roles and government buildings in state government and streamlining school administration costs to lower property taxes. He favors lowering state income taxes to 5 percent to make the state more competitive in attracting business owners and high-end professionals.

Moody is running against Democrat Janet Mills of Farmington, and independents Alan Caron of Freeport and Terry Hayes of Buckfield.

Moody faced some tough challenges growing up in Gorham. His single mother had mental health issues that required her to be hospitalized, and he was left alone at some points, fending for himself. He began working on cars at the age of 13, first as a hobby and soon to make money at the nearby Ron's Corvette Center. He had entered a co-op program by the time he was 17 and was getting out of school at 11 a.m. to go to work. At an early age, he bought a small piece of property and opened a three-bay garage to work on cars.

Over the years his business has grown into the Moody's Collision Center chain, which has 11 locations and employs nearly 200 people. He said 34 percent of the company is owned by his coworkers, and the business shares 10 percent of the after-tax profit with the coworkers. The company has twice been named among "Maine's Best Places to Work."

He said he sees running for governor as giving back to the state that he loves. He said he feels that his background makes him the right guy at the right time for the governor's job as the state faces a shortage of workers to fill trades jobs. He also sees the value of giving young people opportunities to gain the training they need to take on these good-paying jobs without piling up college loan debt.

Asked about his thoughts on gun laws and what needs to be done to prevent mass shootings, Moody said he would uphold 2nd Amendment rights to own weapons. He said he would make it a priority to place armed resource officers in every school in the state.

"It's not Buckingham palace," he said. "They don't stand out front on guard." He said these officers would be integrated into the school's culture, get to know the students and provide a valuable service.

He said law enforcement has been doing a good job, and the state has responsible gun owners. He urged residents to report when they see someone acting recklessly or erratically. He supports the policy of "If you see something, say something."

On the issue of health care, he said it is critical to change government mandates to allow small employers, which make up most of the state's businesses, to buy insurance across state lines. He said increased competition would drive insurance costs down, as has been seen with auto insurance. He also advocated having small companies join co-ops or associations to create larger insurance pools that could leverage lower rates.

On the issue of property taxes, he said the schools should operate efficiently and effectively and get rid of redundancy and duplication in their operations. He acknowledged those cuts would lead to job losses, but argued that the state is at full employment and those folks would be able find good jobs in the private sector.

Moody said his experience running a large and successful business showed that he knew how to run organizations effectively.

"I will continue to be a fiscal hawk. It's in my nature."

He also sees fat to trim in the state budget, proposing to merge some state departments to reduce the number of administrators and state-owned buildings.

Asked about the argument that lowering income taxes only benefits the wealthy, Moody said in many cases going after the wealthy punishes business owners who are providing health and dental benefits, paid time off and maternity leave. He said that is self-defeating. The candidate said the state is already 45th in the nation in terms of business-friendliness.

He also said that if that person is getting taxed at one of the highest rates in the country, that discourages growth.

Asked about the issue of partisanship and over-the-top rhetoric from leaders, he said he has a history of working collaboratively, and that he has been approached by Democrats who may not support him, but who said they would be able to work with him in the Legislature.

Specifically, he pointed out that he had served on the boards of the University of Maine System and Maine Community Colleges System at the same time and encouraged collaboration between the two.

On the issue of addiction, he called for establishing aggressive, mandatory interventions for people who have had more than one drug overdose, similar to the way repeat OUI offenders are forced into treatment now.

He noted that he became his mother's legal guardian when she was deemed incapacitated. "If someone is overdosed, lying on the floor, that's incapacitated," he said.

The candidate favors having courts appoint a family member as a guardian in cases of serious addiction to make sure the person struggling with addiction is in treatment.

Once a person is in recovery, he wants to see them visiting middle schools to educate young people about the dangers of drug abuse.

In addition to saying he would grow the work force through increased trades education, he also said legal immigrants should be given a better pathway to acquiring work permits so they can take part in the American dream.

On the issue of citizen initiatives, Moody said he disapproved of the influence of out-of-state entities and money in promoting these initiatives, and added that citizen initiatives should not replace the Legislature. He said these initiatives do not have public hearings or vetting, the way bills before the Legislature do.

He would also favor requiring the signatures to be gathered in both congressional districts, rather than simply in one region of the state.