Candidate questionnaires

Portrait of Vetress Boyce

Vetress Boyce

Candidate for City Council, 24th Ward

Vetress Boyce

Candidate for City Council, 24th Ward

Portrait of Vetress Boyce

Education: Chicago State First Business School John Marshall High School

Occupation: Presiden/CEO, The Boyce Group, LLC

Home: Chicago

Age: Not answered

Past Political/Civic Experience: Not answered

Candidates running for City Council, 24th Ward


Responses to the Chicago Tribune's questionnaire

Q: Last year, the Chicago Tribune's investigative series "Broken Bonds" reported that, since 2000, Chicago had issued long-term bonds to spend nearly $10 billion, much of it for short-term operating expenses. Hundreds of millions of dollars went to delay bond payments by refinancing old debts, a tactic known as "scoop and toss" that extends payments far into the future. Was this borrowing justified? Going forward, how should City Hall change its finances to pay down existing debts and provide services? Will you argue primarily for cuts in spending or for tax increases? Please be specific.

This borrowing was in no shape form or fashion justified. Municipal bonds used to offset debt is creating more debt. We continue the cycle of robbing Peter to pay Paul which gets us no where and there is no accountability. The benefit is in the hands of the bond holder not the City or the residents. Stream line departments and become more cost efficient. A forensic audit on the spending. Decreasing legal fees by decreasing corruption. Consolidation of departments, freeze pay increases for department heads, moratorium on the ability for elected officials to increase pay. My support and argument will aim strongly to cut spending and not increase taxes. How could we increase the city's budget from 6 billion to 7.5 billion with the deficit we're already in. Taxes are often increased but the impact to improve the debt is minimal to none. The impact to improve life for residents is NONE. Schools are still closing, crime is still on the rise, jobs are still being lost, forecloses are still on the rise, food deserts are massive. NO to tax increases and yes to monitoring and compliance of City spending.


Q: Chicago will face a substantial increase in contributions to its police and fire pension funds in 2016. Chicago's unfunded pension liability amounts to about $7,000 for each resident of the city. How should the city solve its pension crisis? Please be specific about pension changes, spending cuts or revenue increases you would support.

Offer matching 401K's and all money borrowed from pensions should be returned and interest on the return should be governed by law to not exceed bare minimals. Pension funds should not be used as a personal piggy bank for the City's use. Pension funds should be placed into a secured account for the employees and an account that draws interest and the interest serve as a means of revenue for the city.


Q: What changes should be made in the city's use of tax increment financing? Would you support expansion or extension of TIF districts in your ward? How should excess TIF funds be spent? Do you support the $55 million allotment of TIF funds to buy land for a Marriott Hotel and DePaul basketball arena? Please explain.

TIF's today are used as a personal account by the politicians. These funds should and could be used to help fund Free Public Education. Porting of TIF dollars should be abolished. I will not and do not support TIFs being used for extra curriculum activities when our school systems and neighborhoods are in an economic crisis.


Q: The Tribune Editorial Board recently offered "12 ways to heal a city" — the best ideas among more than 1,000 suggestions from readers on how to craft "A new Plan of Chicago." These proposals are available at chicagotribune.com/plan. Please tell us which ideas you would champion. We invite you to offer additional ideas for dealing with Chicago's challenges.

I'm not able to access the site but I will offer my idea for dealing with Chicago's challenges. I would oppose any attempts at privatization of public assets or services because there is no evidence that privatization is better for everyday citizens. Secondly the company that end up with the contracts rarely hire the displaced workers and those that do, do so at a wage much less than the same job was paying. Privatization is a large contributor to tearing apart the middle class. I definitely will promote the creation of jobs that provide workers with living wages and benefits, especially for those workers whose employers get tax breaks or some other form of subsidy. I will loudly and vigorously oppose employers from outsourcing to those third party entities that mean workers will be receiving less in salaries and benefits. Too often outsourcing results in the primary and secondary companies improving their profit margins on the backs of employees when the companies could easily afford better compensation for those workers. I do not believe the city has done nearly enough to assist local businesses preserve existing family wage jobs and bringing new family wage jobs to Chicago. Two administrations of mayors have grossly misused Tax Increment Finance funding to grow the upper middle and upper class population here when the monies should have been directed to helping struggling and blighted sections of the city re-emerge as viable "business-ready" havens. Areas of no affluence have been recipients to low-wage jobs or family wage jobs with low hours. We have a severe housing crisis that is not getting enough attention from legislative bodies. When you have 400million + on the table to be returned to the State from weatherization funds due to non-use, it spells out the lack of interest from those governing. 20,000 plus students living in homeless shelters is a crime and a state of emergency.


Q: Should the City Council keep or abolish the office of legislative inspector general? Should the city inspector general be given the authority to investigate aldermen and their staff members? Do you have other ideas to improve government ethics in Chicago? Please explain.

In any form of Government, a legislative inspector general is needed. Not only the Aldermanic seats but all bodies of Government should have control, monitoring and compliance measures in place.


Q: The Chicago Public Schools system has seen significant improvements in freshmen on track and high school graduation rates. CPS has also closed dozens of schools, used fiscal 2016 revenue to balance its 2015 budget and faces a roughly $700 million pension payment in 2016. Please give us your assessment of the academic and financial performance of the city's public schools. What is the key to improving public education in the city? Should members of the Board of Education be elected by the public or continue to be appointed by the mayor? Do you support the longer school day and year? Should CPS expand or reduce the number of charter schools? How should CPS close its significant budget gap?

Improving public education begins with proper and dependable financial support. Our schools are not able to function because of the lack in financial resources. TIF is one area we should begin using as a means to support Free Public Education. I believe any school closing should be required to address the impact on the neighborhood and students. This would provide an opportunity for local residents and community members with education expertise to address the issue and possibly help reverse the decision to close. I also would strongly recommend that there be some sort of "benchmark" and if the impact was going to fall below that, then the closing be called off. In my mind there is no question that we need to vote as soon as possible on getting an elected school board. I am convinced an elected school board will be far more responsive to the needs of the community at large because it will be more representative of the community. Of course it won't be void of political wrangling, but that wrangling will at least be done in the interest of the community and students versus the interest of the mayor and corporate education types. I would support proposals that would return TIF funds to CPS, as the third largest school district in the nation, there is no reason that our schools and/or teachers should be lacking in anything. TIF dollars also can stymie the growth of charter and non-neighborhood schools. I wouldn't mind playing the lottery if I new it would be used to fund education like the original intention.


Q: How would you attract more employers to your ward? How would you encourage employers to hire local residents? What have you done to promote economic development in your ward?

The 24th Ward has the potential to be marketed to businesses because of it's annual Net Worth quoted by the City as 400 million +. To add we have the most access to public transportation and express ways. The land here is less expensive than other areas and we have so much of it. The unemployment rate is higher than most areas so fulfilling jobs wouldn't be a problem. We are less than 5 minutes from downtown Chicago and development is all around us. Currently in the 24th Ward, we have the largest industrial corridor on the West Side and these business are doing OK. 67% of the communities net worth is leaked due to the business here are not made up of the population and a large portion of the dollars are spent outside of the community because few viable business are local. My attribute to promote Economic Development started with running for Alderman in 2011, being a founder of the Greater Lawndale Black Chamber of Commerce in 2012, Starting my own WBE/MBE company to help employ residents. Creating economic plans with business associates to move their businesses to the 24th Ward. Working with developers to assure quality affordable housing so residents won't move out the community. Mentoring many on how to start businesses and the opportunities to keep their businesses flowing. My plat form as a candidate for Alderman in 2011 was on Economic Development and my plat form in 2015 is the same. I stand strongly behind the implementation of Community Benefit Agreements being that I drafted the first ever on the West Side.


Q: Do you support or oppose the City Council vote to increase the minimum wage in several steps to $13 an hour by 2019? Please explain.

I am willing to campaign of raising the city's minimum wage to $13 per hour. It is no new argument, but one I fully support that too many working Chicagoans are still in need of public assistance or are teetering on poverty. I think it is wrong on every level to put in at least 40 hours per week and still not have enough money for basics. The increase in pay reduces the need of government supplemented income in some cases.


Q: Should the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art be built at the proposed location on Chicago's lakefront? Please explain.

I support the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art to be built on Chicago's Lake Front. Most of the major museums in Chicago are located in that area and consistency of that would be advantageous to the residents as well as tourists.


Q: How can the city improve public safety? Please address the role and performance of the Chicago Police Department and the role of neighborhood residents in crime prevention. What have you done to improve public safety in your community?

The most effective way to improve public safety where it benefit both the police and the residents is to implement Community Policing. Creating relationships with police officers and the community in which they serve brings a huge scope of familiarity and create the landscape of less police brutality. This brings an understanding from both parties and the dynamics each side has to deal with on a daily basis. I make it my business on a regular basis to reach out to the young men on the street with job opportunities and conversation of how they feel I could help them improves their lives. My office is open for them to come in and volunteer. I help to form a team of contractors that are rehabbing properties and these contractors utilize the guys on the street as helpers. I often get job leads that don't require much skill and those leads are directed to the unemployed (97% of youth are unemployed). I've been working to obtain my WBE/MBE Certification which has been approved as a means to supply more jobs in the janitorial field. The key to reducing crime is to employ.


Q: Do you support Chicago's traffic light camera program? Please explain.

NO, I do not support the program over-all however I feel a need to have them near schools. Further, this program is held by a private entity I would oppose any attempts at privatization of public assets or services because there is no evidence that privatization is better for everyday citizens. Secondly the company that end up with the contracts rarely hire the displaced workers and those that do, do so a wage much less than the same job was paying. Privatization is a large contributor to tearing apart the middle class. Last the data collected from these cameras have been proven to be faulty and not factual.


Q: Should Chicago reduce the number of aldermen in the City Council?

I don't feel a need to reduce City Council members (Alderman). Alderman already have the responsibility of thousands and much of their duties are unfulfilled and to increase their area of governing will create more problems.


Q: What is your highest priority for improving your ward? What is the greatest concern you hear from residents of your ward?

My highest priority of improving the 24th Ward is to stabilize housing, reduce crime, reduce unemployment, improve the school system and cleaner environment by implementing a cultural economic and social transformation. Beautiful affordable apartments/housing, CBA (Community Benefits Agreement) to insure the residents benefit from major development projects, more businesses that reflect the population. The greatest concerns I hear from the residents is the need for safer streets, less vacant lands, too many abandoned properties, re-open schools, more businesses to reflect the racial population and effective leadership.


Q: Please tell us something about yourself that would surprise us.

Many are often surprised that I just had a 50th birthday and that I raised 7 children; youngest is 20. I spent 25 years in Corporate American and last position held was VP of Operations. I recently received my MBE/WBE certification with the City/State in many areas; Janitorial, Real Estate, Remodeling, Consulting, Administrative. I'm a licensed Real Estate Broker. I ran for Alderman in 2011 which was my first time ever running for any political seat and I came 2nd to the current Alderman out of 18 candidates. I drafted the first ever Community Benefits Agreement for the 24 ward under the Greater Lawndale Black Chamber of Commerce which I'm one of the founders of.


City Council, 24th Ward