2013 Kalamazoo Gazette Candidate Questions
Resides: 1129 Berkshire Drive, Arcadia neighborhood
Occupation and employer: Owner of United Lawn Service LLC and an independent financial services representative
Educational background:2001 Kalamazoo Central H.S graduate and 2005 Kalamazoo Valley Graduate.Elected positions held:noneOther community leadership positions held:Chairman of the Kalamazoo Zoning Board of Appeals; member of the City of Kalamazoo Friends of Recreation Board; member of the Kalamazoo Deacons Conference Board of Directors; youth leader at church
Number of years lived in Kalamazoo County: 29
Below are Nick Boyd's written answers to questions asked by the Kalamazoo Gazette.
Why should voters elect you to the Kalamazoo City Commission?
My time on the Kalamazoo Zoning Board of Appeals and the Kalamazoo Community Relations boards has taught me procedure and protocol. My time as an elections inspector and precinct chairman have taught me the importance and nuance of the election process. Being part of a large bank and in finance for over 9 years taught me how money works and how the world of finance functions. Being an entrepreneur and business owner taught me the nuts and bolts of what it takes to create jobs, make something out of nothing, responsibility in leadership, and keeping a budget. I am the youngest of four children and have learned well the lessons of teamwork and knowing when to make sure my opinion has been heard. I believe when you put all that together you get a pretty good city commissioner and leader.
What do you consider the single greatest issue facing Kalamazoo over the next two years?
The single greatest issue is the lack of a coherent vision for the City of Kalamazoo. Our current commission’s vision is a “new normal” which means less city services and slower response times. The State and Federal government have effectively let local municipalities know that they are on their own financially. I envision a community that uses its many resources to become a regional hub for entrepreneurship and economic innovation to create jobs. I envision a community that eliminates redundant services and saves tax dollars by creating partnerships and integrating services with surrounding communities, non-profits and businesses, creating efficiencies wherever possible.
Despite the early-retirement initiative and other cost-cutting moves, the city of Kalamazoo is projected to face serious budget deficits in the coming years. How is this budget challenge best addressed at the local level?
Vision, Leadership and Partnerships. We must partner with our non-profit organizations, local businesses and neighboring municipalities to reduce over head cost. Just one of many examples; On Riverview Drive there is a Kalamazoo Public Safety station one block away from a Kalamazoo Township Police station. By partnering with each other we could provide the same service at a reduced cost to tax payers. There are many of these redundancies in our city and county costing tax payers millions.Would you support putting a city income tax on the ballot? Why or why not?
I am not in support of a city income tax but I do support the issue going to a vote so that we can have a real discussion about how our tax dollars are spent in this city and in our county. I firmly believe the elimination of duplicated services in our county will balance our budget without reducing our quality of life.
Would you support putting any other revenue choices before voters? Why or why not?
I believe the voters have done their part and it is time for the elected leaders to do their part. I believe asking voters to pay more for less isn’t a way forward but rather a downward spiral. Let’s fix the structural problems, eliminate the redundant expenditures then create revenue alternatives and opportunities.
Are there any areas of city spending where you believe more cost savings could be found? If so, where are they? If not, why not?
Yes, there are many areas where cost saving can be achieved. Look at the cities expenditures line by line and the look at our surrounding municipalities that spend money on the same things, and then look at the non-profits and businesses in the county. You’ll find that they are all doing many of the same things at the same time at a higher cost than they would have to if they worked together. We can do it better if we do it together.
In the past year, the city has wrestled with digital billboard regulations, contamination at the Allied site and downtown noise. Are there quality-of-life issues you think need to be addressed within the next two years? If so, how would you address them?
I believe the current commissions plan to deal with the looming budget issues will have the biggest impact on our quality of life in Kalamazoo. "Get used to a new normal" they have said, "expect less services and slower response times" was a recurring theme during the early retirement meetings. I believe we should take these comments seriously and understand they will impact our roads and infrastructure the everyday city to citizen interface and much more. We need to make a change and make it now; new ideas and new leadership is needed.
Do you believe the mayor of Kalamazoo should be elected separately from the other commissioners? Would you support putting such a question before voters?
I do not believe the mayor of Kalamazoo should be elected separately from the rest of the City Commission until we are ready to move to a strong mayoral system, which I do not believe the size of our city warrants. That setup (electing the mayor separately) has lead to the stagnation of leadership in surrounding municipalities and can set the mayor at odds with the remaining commission much like the mayor of Detroit has been at odds with the Detroit city council. Our current, non-partisan, best of 7, system IS NOT broken so there is no reason to fix it.
Do you believe city commissioners should be elected by wards or districts instead of citywide? Would you support putting such a question before voters?
Electing city commissioners by wards seems to work best when there is a city of significant size and diversity. I believe our current, non-partisan, best of 7 system IS NOT broken, so there is no reason to fix it. In the event our city grows or expands to include its neighbors I believe this is an option that should be explored at that time.
2011 Candidtate Questions
League of Women Voters, Kalamazoo Chamber of Commerce and Great Kalamazoo Association of Realtors
What involvement have you personally had in your school district? (Examples: Children attended public schools? Have you been or are you a booster or PTO parent? Worked on millage, bond, or board of education campaigns?)
I am proud to be a 2001 graduate of Kalamazoo Central High School. I have a 2 year old and 1 year old that I will proudly send to KPS. I am a vehement campaigner for the many benefits of KPS and what KPS has done for me. I look forward to many years of involvement, support and collaboration.
What is your general feeling about public schools and Kalamazoo Public Schools? Would you be willing to state that to the public and press?
KPS is the best and our school is world class. I believe a society should be measured by its investments in its children. I believe instead of leaving our children settled with debt and an education that won’t fight with global competitors, we must do what it takes to make sure KPS grads aren’t just funded for college but also prepared. The community must work together to realize this goal.
Do you support or oppose the use of public money for vouchers or tax credits for private or nonpublic schools?
I believe all public money should be used for public schools. Although private schools can be a benefit to a community, I believe private schools should be privately funded. The important thing is that public funds are used wisely. For example: I would love to see more teachers in the classroom which amounts to smaller class sizes. One way to do this is to consolidate top administrative positions in the county instead of cutting teachers anytime there is a budget shortfall.
What support do you have in this election? What personal, professional and/or organizational recommendations do you expect to obtain for your candidacy?
In 2009 when I ran, I received the endorsement of the Kalamazoo Gazette and hope to receive it again this year. I have a wonderful campaign staff and 15-20 people ready to help me knock on doors. I am Vice Chairman of the Kalamazoo Zoning Board of Appeals. I am a local business owner, youth leader at my church and involved in my neighborhood and community. I have a strategic plan for any additional funds my campaign receives to assure victory.
What are your thoughts regarding the Right to Work legislation in the State of Michigan?
I believe “Right to Work” is a partisan plan to break up the voting power of unions of course by breaking up and/or diminishing the number of enrollees in unions. “Right to Work” sounds good but isn’t always good when it comes to reality. For example: “Right to Work” states tend to have lower wages for workers which equates to lesser quality of life. I am not in favor of “Right to Work” as I have seen it implemented elsewhere.
What is your belief, and why, regarding privatization of public services within the city and the school district?
I believe privatization should happen only when an outside source is able to provide a service that is clearly reasonable and understandable that the city and/or school district cannot. Privatization has been used to fix symptoms of problems in government times (lack of money) but doesn’t fix the problem.
In your view, how do unions and collective bargaining play a role in the public employment sector? Do you believe collective bargaining should be limited in any way in the public sector?
There is safety in numbers. The only danger is not everyone in the number gets what they want. When you have a large number though, you at least get some things and that is better than the alternative of getting nothing at all. I don’t believe collective bargaining should be limited, it gives a voice to those who would otherwise not be heard.
If elected, what is your top priority issue and why?
Jobs are my number one priority; specifically the creation of jobs through entrepreneurship and small business growth. I believe advertising the many ways Kalamazoo is open for business is a great start making sure our community has jobs for our Promise graduates to come back to and will decrease home and rental vacancy rates.
Are you aware of any issues that are impacting the real estate investment or rental property industry? If so, what issues are you aware of and what is your position on these issues?
I see many problems that are facing the real estate investment and rental property industry but central to all of them are jobs and economic growth. Without a stable and growing local economy, the reality of home ownership, real estate investment and renting property is a dream that fewer and fewer citizens can realize. As a member of the Zoning Board of Appeals, I advocate for better zoning practices and the hope that zoning has minimal impact to economic growth.
Please indicate your position on the following statement:
Privately owned and operated rental housing (apartments, duplexes,condos,single family rentals, etc.) is an important part of the housing mix in a community.
Strongly Agree Agree Disagree Strongly Disagree
Explain: I believe a diverse group of property owners will provide a diverse group of renters.
Do you own rental property, or are you a real estate investor? If yes, how many or what kind of investment and in what area(s)?
I am not a rental property owner or real estate investor myself but I do own a lawn care company that does maintenance for a few residential (single family) rentals in town.
Maintaining rental housing that is affordable and in compliance with strict housing codes is challenging. Would you support the reduction or elimination of fees related to housing code compliance, e.g. registration fees, certification fees, inspection fees, etc. ? If no, why not?
As a member of the Zoning Board of Appeals, I understand the need for housing and zoning codes. However, I wish to change our system to give incentive to good behavior as a way to attract investors and renters to Kalamazoo to help lower vacancy rates.
Currently, rental properties are subject to the non-homestead property tax rate. This significantly increases the cost of rental housing. Would you be in favor of changing the State Constitution to lower property taxes for rental housing? If not, why?
I believe the best way to lower taxes is to lower vacancy rates and create jobs and do whatever it takes to stop feeding the cycle of jobs and population loss.
Do you fell it is appropriate for municipalities to inform tenants of their right under state law to accept or refuse a property maintenance inspection? If not, why?
I will always stand on the side of citizens knowing their rights but I also hold the government accountable for fair laws that are a benefit to society and allow the flow of economic development.
Why are you running for Kalamazoo City Commissioner? What is the most significant accomplishment you hope to make during your term on the Commission?
I’m running for the office of Kalamazoo City Commissioner to offer my ideas and exuberance as a young man. Also, my knowledge and experience as a hard worker and business owner. I have a ready ear to hear those who need to be heard, and a loud voice to fight for their cause. Success for me will be measured by the number of jobs created through the support and advertisement of entrepreneurs and small businesses in our community and the prioritization of funding for every education program such as the lunch and learn program.
What are the most positive characteristics or qualities of Kalamazoo—ones that attract people and businesses and keep them here? How should the Commission capitalize on them?
[Kalamazoo’s best qualities are:]
The People, the Promise, the possibilities. The diverse population racially, ethnically, religiously and socially makes Kalamazoo a place anyone would be comfortable calling home. The Kalamazoo Promise gives me hope for the future and something worth working for today. Thanks to the people in Kalamazoo and selfless efforts like the Kalamazoo Promise the Possibilities are endless. We must capitalize on these benefits with investors and entrepreneurs to show Kalamazoo is open and ready for business and that this is the best place for a family live and to learn.
What are the roles of the city and commissioners to ensure that children residing in the community are safe, healthy and educated?
As a city commissioner, being an advocate for those who can’t speak for themselves is a top priority. I will advocate for early childhood education and college preparatory effort as well as partner with KPS whenever possible and fight for every federal and state dollar. I believe we must fight to keep community policing so the first time young people see a cop it isn’t at the time of an offense, which will give an opportunity for citizens to trust the people that keep them safe.
What is the condition of the city infrastructure—basic physical structures and facilities (e.g., buildings, roads, utilities, etc.)? What actions are needed by the Commission in the coming two years to protect or improve them?
A few things I love about Kalamazoo and often here about from people from out of town are our architecture, public libraries and that our roads are better maintained than other urban areas. Unfortunately due to budget cuts much of the road upkeep will be slowed or halted in the next few years. Infrastructure affects quality of life and whether or not businesses choose to invest in our community. I believe creative actions and partnerships will need to be formed to avoid the deterioration of roads and infrastructure.