Reproduced from The Record

Thursday, November 11 , 2004

by Michael J. Wildes, Mayor, City of Englewood

2-10 N. Van Brunt Street

Englewood , NJ 07631



Click Here for Mayor's Birthday Celebration

Campaign Cash Appeal Comes Gift-Wrapped

Thursday, November 11, 2004


ENGLEWOOD - The invitation assures guests that donations are optional, should anyone confuse the mayor's 40th birthday party with a campaign fund-raiser.
Of course, the party's host, U.S. Sen. Jon Corzine, D-N.J., was the chief fund-raiser for senatorial candidates in last week's election. And yes, the guest of honor, Mayor Michael Wildes, a Democrat, plans to run for the 9th Congressional District seat in 2008.

But Wildes said he asked Corzine to host his party because the two are just close friends - in case their side-by-side beaming faces on the glossy invitation left any doubts.

"This has nothing to do with his or my potential ambitions for governor or Congress," said Wildes, an immigration attorney. "I wanted to mark my 40 years with the people I care about in the city that I love."

Hundreds of Wildes' closest friends, and anyone who clicks on his personal Web site,, are invited to celebrate his 40th birthday at the Radisson Hotel on Nov. 24. There will be food, and Wildes said he is courting Englewood's own Sugar Hill Gang, pioneers of rap, to perform.

"I look forward to you joining me as my guest on this special day of my life," the invitation says in italics.

But then there's the fine print:

"In lieu of gifts, donations to 'Friends of Michael Wildes' are greatly appreciated," it reads. "Corporate contributions permitted."

Sound more like a campaign event? Wildes said he was simply giving supporters "a chance to support my reelection for mayor."

Corzine, the multimillionaire first-term senator who is mulling a run for New Jersey governor next year, will not solicit cash for his own campaign, Corzine spokesman David Wald said.

"It's a thing for Friends of Michael Wildes," Wald said.

Wildes, a first-term mayor, has shown he can raise tons of money and bring big names - such as Hillary Clinton and Israel's former chief rabbi - to Englewood. In his uncontested mayoral campaign last year, Wildes raised more than $360,000 - which dwarfed the war chests of local candidates for the state Legislature.

The mayor has said he wants to demonstrate his independence from Bergen County Democratic Party Chairman Joseph Ferriero - a power broker whom many associate with "pay-to-play" politics.

But Wildes' opponents, who include members of Englewood's all-Democratic City Council, describe the mayor as a showoff who is using the mayor's office as a springboard to higher office.

"I have yet to see where Englewood has benefited from any of these actions," said council President Jack Drakeford. "I would venture to say that he probably feels he moved to Washington already. Not that there's anything wrong with thinking positive."

Drakeford said he wasn't sure if he would attend the party.

Wildes has said he would need to raise millions to have a good chance at the House seat currently held by four-term Democrat Steve Rothman of Fair Lawn.

Rothman, a former Englewood mayor, has said he plans to run for Senate when a seat opens. Wildes said he would not run against Rothman if he remained in the house in 2008.


Paid for by Friends of Michael J. Wildes, Claudia Colbert, Treasurer