Reproduced from The Suburbanite
by Michael J. Wildes, Mayor, City of Englewood
2-10 N. Van Brunt St reet
Enlgewood , NJ 07631
Wildes On The ‘American Dream'
By Andrew S. Katchen
Chances are no two people define being a success in the same way.
Last Wednesday morning approximately 40 Academies and Englewood students listened to new Mayor Michael Wildes speak on his distinct version of succeeding and the American Dream. Then these students had the opportunity of delving deeper into Wildes' character through a concluding Q&A session.
Dressed in a crisp navy pinstripe suit, Wildes paced the front of the cold, cavernous school meeting room with ease and poise. As he elaborated on his notion of the American Dream he looked individual students in the eye and addressed them in a kindly, respectful manner.
Wildes began the morning speech by discussing his grandparents, who successfully fled Nazi Germany and came to America to establish a new life.
“I've been fortunate enough through my family to see the American dream,” he said.
Teacher Judy Aronson said Wildes' presentation is part of a three-month program that teaches students how the American dream has changed throughout modern history.
Despite initial heating problems in the room, the students focused on Wildes attentively and seemed to be heeding his wisdom and advice. Eyes widened with a glowing interest when he casually mentioned working on cases for high profile hip-hop artists, pop stars and being personal friends of John Lennon's family.
Aside from serving his three-year term as Englewood mayor, Wildes is an immigration lawyer with the Manhattan-based Wildes, Weinberg, Grunblatt & Wildes.
There, among many cases, he has represented basketball player Kwame James. James is known for restraining Richard Reid, the attempted shoe-bomber while on American Airlines Flight 63 in December 2001.
After he encouraged students to e-mail him directly and be in regular contact, Wildes opened up the floor and allowed students to ask him a wide range of questions.
Ninth grade student Eric Emedoh struck at the core of Wildes' initial motivation for becoming a politician.
Emedoh asked him who was his earliest political influence. Wildes responded simply by saying, “John F. Kennedy.”
Other questions found Wildes discussing racial equality in Englewood and whether he had friends as a child.
Before leaving for his Manhattan firm, Wildes shared with students an aphorism in which he seems to strongly believe.
“Don't be in a rush to get out of school, but rush to learn as much as you can.”
Paid for by Friends of Michael J. Wildes, Claudia Colbert, Treasurer