Day in the Life of the Mayor

Day in the Life of the Mayor Part I

Day in the Life of the Mayor Part II

Reproduced from The Northern Valley Suburbanite

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

by Michael J. Wildes, Mayor, City of Englewood

2-10 N. Van Brunt Street

Englewood , NJ 07631

201.871.6666

Mayor Wildes Is Always Busy

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

By MELISSA L. MAGYAR
OF SUBURBANITE

The saying "busy as a bee" should be changed to "busy as Michael Wildes."

The man does not stop. Most people take a few minutes to pause and relax, not Wildes. He does not let a second pass him by. He embraces the different aspects of his life and has a strong foundation to keep him going, his family.

He is married and the father of four children. You all know him as the mayor of Englewood. In his life in New York City, he has a very different role. He is a "high-profile" immigration attorney and a partner in the law firm Wildes, Weinberg, Grunblatt and Wildes. His father, Leon Wildes, started the firm.

To accomplish all of his tasks as a husband, father, lawyer, mayor and EMT, he begins his day bright and early. Wildes leaves his home in Englewood by 6 a.m. Before he leaves he checks his e-mail account and the numerous voice mails he has between his law office, mayor's office, political office and two cell phones. He then says goodbye to his wife and children and is out the door in a flash. The day that staff photographer Mike Karas and I spent with him, he left for work a little later, 7 a.m.

"If you're not happy in the morning to get up and do what you have to do, you won't be good at it," Wildes said on the way to work.

As he zips through the traffic and across the bridge into mid-town Manhattan, he is already taking care of business for his clients, responding to voicemails and planning for upcoming events or appearances. On the day we spent with him, he was expecting a visit from 21 children that were terminally ill.

The children were visiting from Isreal through a program called Larger than Life. The children traveled to America to visit Disney World and they stopped in New York for a few days before they left. They wanted to meet a mayor from America, so Wildes volunteered and was planning for the visit in his office.

Before he even reached his office, he called his secretary and had her go out and buy soda and donuts for the children and adults traveling with them.This was before 8 a.m. by the way.

Once he reached his law office around 8:30 a.m., he went back to checking e-mails and voicemails. He had received more since the time he checked them at home.

Over the course of a day, he receives approximately 100 phone calls from clients, constituents, senators and prime ministers. While checking one set of voicemails he was checking e-mails and talking to people in his office about cases they were working on. At any give time he has two or three people running in and out of his office showing him paperwork, helping him with a client or responding to his call for them. With all this going on, he has phones ringing, e-mails coming in, clients in front of him, a television tuned to a cable news network and his EMT radio next to him listening for calls he may need to respond to.

Wildes is a volunteer EMT for Hatzoloh, an ambulance corp. in New York City that includes Jewish doctors, lawyers and other professionals. If he is in the vicinity of a call he responds. He said his father sits in with him when he meets with clients and if he needs to respond to a call, he is out the door and his father takes over the appointment.

In his office an EMT kit sits on a shelf in a bookcase filled with Tom Clancy, Hebrew, medical and law books. In his car, he has a stethoscope hanging from the rearview mirror, lights and sirens hooked up and a medical bag and oxygen tank in his trunk in case he needs to use his car to respond to a call. He also keeps a spare suit in his car in case he is on calls or something arises in Englewood and cannot get home before work to change.

Throughout his office you will find pictures of his wife and childrenand trinkets that his children have given him. They call him each morning and let him know they have gotten on the bus safely and are on their way to school. His youngest child, four-year old Jaclyn, called him at one
Point during the day to tell him about her trip to the dentist. "She calls me allday so she can hear my voice," Wildes said.

During his career as a federal prosecutor and immigration attorney he met many people and developed friendships with them. Through his short political career, which started as a councilman for the Second Ward, he has developed a desire to run for Congress, possibly state office in the future.

He is already fundraising for his campaign.

His bold, frank and outgoing personality lead him to develop contacts with so many people in so many different areas. Just one quick glance at the walls in his office and you can see what I mean. He has pictures with President Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary, President George H. W.
Bush, numerous senators and congressman and actors covering the deep red walls of his office. He has articles all over his office about cases he has handled and moments in his political career.

Wildes has had his fair share of high profile cases. Two recent cases that brought him media attention were those involving Kwame James, the hero in the shoe bomber case, and Mohammed Khilewi, a Saudi defector. He remains in contact with both clients. Both men complimented Wildes for the work he did for them during phone interviews.

"He's definitely genuine in my eyes," James said. "He's got my vote."

"He was great handling all of the issues," Khilewi said during an interview. "During the most difficult time you feel comfortable working with him."

On the day we spent with him, Wildes had five appointments and never stopped between them. During the first one, he dealt with his clients while tracking down a number for the Disney Store on Madison Avenue so his secretary could purchase souvenirs for the children visiting from
Israel. He told his first client he would be able to help him get permanent status in the country and eventually become a citizen. Another client came in and within minutes he discussed with her how he would file for her to become a citizen. He previously helped her get a green card. His third appointment came in and he just spoke to the client, who had been recommended by a former New Jersey governor, and told him different options he had.

In between his next appointment the children from Larger than Life arrived at the office. They were a perfect example of the diversity he always speaks about in Englewood. The children were Jewish, Arab and Druze. Employees in the firm came to see the children who, despite their medical conditions, were smiling and full of life. "For every child in this country life should be like Disney World, for every child in the world life should be like Disney World," Wildes said to the children. "If I had a magic wand from Disney World, I would make that so."

After the children left, Wildes got down to business again and met with clients. His last two appointments were not as positive as the morning ones. In both cases, each client had their own issues and Wildes gave them advice on what could be done, but the outcome was uncertain.

Before he left for the day, he checked in with some of his employees and the status of their cases. He discussed laws that were recently changed with his colleagues and how some of their clients may be affected by the changes.

He also checked his voicemails and e-mails one last time before heading home to one of his other jobs as mayor.

"It's in my blood not to stay in one place," Wildes said, " I'm like my mother that way."

Reproduced from The Northern Valley Suburbanite

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

by Michael J. Wildes, Mayor, City of Englewood

2-10 N. Van Brunt Street

Englewood , NJ 07631

201.871.6666

Wildes Talks, Meets People, Talk More

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

By MELISSA L. MAGYAR
OF SUBURBANITE

If you were tired after reading about what Michael Wildes does at his law firm in New York City, in the first part of this story last week, just wait until you see what he does during the rest of the day as mayor.

On the way home a drive through scenic Central Park would offer a period of relaxation to most people, but not Wildes. It is then that he changes roles from immigration attorney to mayor. He returns phone calls from constituents and other leaders in the city as he listens to his EMT radio, which is now tuned to the channel used by the Englewood police and fire departments.

He makes himself available to constituents and freely hands out his e-mail address and cell phone number. On any given night, the mayor has numerous appointments with people who want to voice their concerns or are looking for help. He tries to keep the meetings short, about 15 minutes each, but with enough time to listen to his constituents. Wildes meets with people to discuss anything from political issues to community projects to concerns about the schools and city government. He listens to the residents and gives them his full attention. People are not running in and out of his office and phones are not ringing off the hook like they do during the day at his office.

After his mini-meetings, he is on his way to a city meeting or a community event. Or sometimes he is heading to two meetings and different community events all in one evening.

Wildes has no problem stopping by events throughout the city that people have asked him to attend. In fact, on his web site he has a page that people can request a visit from the mayor at a community event or a ribbon cutting ceremony for a new business.

Beyond the meetings and other events, Wildes spends Friday afternoons in Englewood. During this time, he visits schools, senior citizen centers and any other events, meetings or interviews he has scheduled. On a few different occasions, I covered stories when the mayor visited schools in the city. He tells the children that as mayor, he is always available for them and their families. He also stresses the importance of education and tells the students that they are future mayors, presidents, doctors, lawyers and teachers and it all begins "behind the desk you are sitting in."

As a mayor, Wildes has the authority to marry people. He said many of the couples he marries at city hall show up in gowns and tuxedos complete with bridal parties.

When visiting the schools, he always mentions that marrying people is one of the best parts about being mayor.

One of the roles of the mayor of Englewood is to sit on the planning board and vote on the developments that will impact the city. He also appoints the board members.

The day Michael Karas, staff photographer, and I spent with him, Wildes came back in to Englewood and had a list of events and meetings he needed to attend. To him it was just another part of the job he has as mayor.

"I've always been involved in something," Wildes said about his on-the-go lifestyle.

We arrived in Englewood at 4:30 p.m., which was early for Wildes to be back from work. At 5:30 p.m. he headed off to interview a candidate for the position of municipal judge. From there he stopped at a fundraiser at the Englewood Field Club for tsunami relief efforts. Between the fundraiser and the planning board meeting that night, he attended appointments he had with residents who wanted to discuss their concerns.

His last scheduled task for the day was the planning board meeting. As it got under Wildes ate his dinner from Panera's Bread out of a brown paper bag as he listened to the applications before the board.

When the planning board meeting ended residents approached Wildes as he tried to exit the courtroom talking to him about issues they have or events they would like him to be at or something they need help with, just as they do at council meetings and other events. He listens to them as he makes his way out of the building and offers them help or tells them to get in touch with him to continue the discussion.

Once he has made his way through the crowd, Wildes heads home to continue his day as a husband and father.

He said he makes it a point to spend time with his children either before he leaves for work or when he comes home. At different events throughout the city, it is not unusual to see his wife, Amy, and their four children to show their support.

A constant factor throughout his day is his family. His office in the city and his political office in Englewood are filled with photos and memorabilia of his family. In his political office you can find photos of his wife, children and parents throughout the room. He keeps in touch with them throughout the day and makes sure he remains a strong presence in their lives.

Wildes is the only Orthodox-Jewish mayor of a municipality in the United States. That is a fact he is always proud to share with people. He is observant of his religion and it is not unusual to see him walking through Englewood or along Route 4 with a police escort to attend events on
Saturday.

He is a man constantly moving with a support system - his wife and others who offered their help. Anita Sniderman, his executive assistant, and R.J. Clemor, his constituent liaison, help him keep on task and take care of issues that arise in the city when he is not around.

 

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