Englewood Mayor Michael J. Wildes
State of the City
January 2, 2005
The City Charter mandates that once a year the mayor should offer a report reviewing the “state of the city."
In this, my first year as mayor, I have found that the mayor's report must be more than simply stating a laundry list of city achievements and goals. Rather it should reflect the community's needs and hopes which should be the basis for goals set and achievements.
Dr. John Grieco, our late superintendent of schools, understood something about human needs as well as our children's dreams. He, more than any individual I can think of, has helped shape a better future for Englewood .
Dr. Grieco is sorely missed by those who knew him, and will live on for generations in the lives of children who will never know this man who worked so hard to improve Englewood 's schools.
I begin by recognizing others who have helped make Englewood what it is today:
Mr. Bob Benecke, our former city manager, who stepped down this past year, but continues his involvement as a consultant.
Our former Mayor Paul Fader, who now serves as Legal Counsel to our Governor Dick Codey. We wish him well.
Our former Councilman Hank Citron and every outgoing member of every city board, as well as all those who have served our city with distinction. Their time and commitment have truly made a difference for Englewood , and will continue to do so in the future.
However, as our city slogan – “ Englewood – A Progressive Community” – suggests, Englewood is nothing if it is not a symbol for progress. And progress involves some change, from time to time.
This year things are changing in Englewood .
Today Charlotte Schoen becomes a Councilwoman, representing the 2 nd ward. Her experience, commitment and conscience will serve us well. I congratulate her.
Cheryl Fuller has joined us city manager. She has taken on a ch all enging responsibility and I know she will be counting on each of us to achieve success in her work.
I herewith present to our new Council President, a list of new board appointees which includes the return of experienced activists to some community boards. I believe these mayoral appointments reflect both a fresh perspective where needed as well as respect for those who have demonstrated a real commitment to our city in the past.
Last year we also were privileged to welcome several Ho us es of Worship, scores of new b us inesses and new residents to Englewood .
I am happy to report that Englewood is a thriving community and know that, if we work together, our city will continue to thrive and flourish!
2004 in Review
I am proud of what has been accomplished this past year. Working with the late Dr. Grieco and our School board, our City Council and our City Managers,
We have afforded our children the promise to realize their potential. We came together to pass the referendum which will rejuvenate our public schools.
We have worked to protect both our city's people and natural surroundings. We completed improvements, which I began working on as Councilman, to make Jones Road the beauty that surrounds it safer and more secure.
We have provided our youth with a place to go where they can experience the joys of being young. I was proud to sign the ordinance that will make Councilman Drakeford's vision of a recreation center in Englewood a reality.
And we began to end “b us iness as us ual” and beca us e it is never good b us iness for our taxpayers, I am keeping my promise to bring new people into city government in areas where the mayor has the power to appoint them.
I have been involved in convening a task force to look into ho us ing concerns, bringing together clergy members to open dialogue where needed, reaching out to the citizens of Englewood during town meetings, visiting our public schools, hosting events for dignitaries, or simply awarding keys to the city, cutting ribbons or issuing proclamations. I am pleased to report that Englewood is better off today than it was j us t one year ago. That is the case beca us e the people in this room, and many who are not here, cared enough to work hard enough to make it happen.
Looking ahead to 2005
However, not withstanding all we have done, there is much more yet to do:
This is the year we m us t dot the “i”s and cross the “t”s” to complete Dr. Grieco's vision, beca us e the taxpayers who made the investment in our children and the student s themselves deserve no less.
In 2005, we m us t also work to correct any concerns about the openness of the Englewood Economic Development Corporation; their work m us t continue unimpeded beca us e they have been and will continue to be important to the vibrancy of Englewood 's economy.
As we approach the future we also continue to welcome new development that will bring us much sought-after tax ratability. But this new ratability will also change the face of our city, so we m us t ensure what is built receives careful review; is built properly; and for the right reasons.
And fin all y, with the necessary investments made in our schools and property revaluation on the horizon, we have to do more to control the taxes for municipal government. We m us t minimize the burdens on our residents, beca us e in the end, we cannot grow as a city if our taxpayers cannot afford to grow with us . Last year, I asked the City Council to form a Blue Ribbon citizens' panel, with funding made available from city surpl us funds, to perform a thorough independent review of, and if necessary, an independent audit of municipal operations. As I said last year, this citizens' panel would have j us t one responsibility: to find areas where reductions can be made in the cost of municipal government on every level. Its goal should be finding cost savings that add up to the annual cost of the payments on the school construction. Once the panel's work is done, the City Council can convene public hearings and determine which changes to implement. The governing body has us ed citizens' panels such as this before. For example, the city council delegated to a volunteer group the initial interview process for a job as crucial as our new city manager. It only makes sense to do the same when it comes to recommending the details of initial cost savings in our city government.
I look forward to working with the city council to achieve these goals and much more in the coming year.
More so than when I served as a Councilman, as Mayor, I consider the people of Englewood like my extended family. I start almost every day speaking with someone I represent from somewhere in our city before my workday begins. More often than not, I end each day doing the same before retiring.
I have visited people in their sick beds, helped to comfort people at funerals and listened when all someone asked for is to be heard. Countless residents have joined me and my family in our home for quiet conversations or social gatherings.
More than anything, this is the part of my job which I most appreciate: making a difference, one individual at a time.
I would like to thank my wife Amy and our four children, Raquel, Josh, Lauren, and Jaclyn. They have made my doing this job possible. It is not only for the people I serve, but for my family, that I will continue to do my best to excel as your mayor.
As we begin this New Year, we look forward, as elected officials, to doing more to get more done for my family, your families and the families of all the people we represent.
May God Bless our City and its citizens. My best wishes to everyone for a happy and healthy New Year.
Paid for by Friends of Michael J. Wildes, Claudia Colbert, Treasurer