After nine years of serving on the Berkeley Heights Township Council, Elaine Perna, known by many as just 'Elaine' is stepping down from her position and looking forward to spending time with her family and friends and her 99 year old father.
What did she learn during almost a decade of service?
"I think when you are an average resident who is not involved and you are looking at the decisions that the council makes from the outside, I think you tend to have a totally different view of what is really happening," Perna said.
She said serving on the council has given her a totally different vantage point in assessing the town's challenges and solutions.
She said she has loved her work on the council, but feels that at this time she would like to spend more time with family, friends and some time at her home in Florida.
At the Dec. 20 council meeting, Mayor Joseph Bruno said he hopes to call upon Perna for her perspective on a number of issues.
Perna said when she looks back at some of the initiatives that the council tackled over the last nine years, she is proud of the reorgnization of the police department, the development of new companies such as Life Time Fitness, L'Oreal, and Summit Medical Group which helped residential taxes, and the installation of Stanford Drive Park which began as a site that was designated for 350 high density multiple dwellings that was turned into a park with playground facilities.
Perna said she urges residents to get involved in shaping the town and serving on the township council, but she also offered a caveat.
"If you get involved, you should come into it with no agenda. You should come into it with an open mind willing to serve the community and do what is best for the community," Perna said.
The complete video taped interview with Elaine Perna will be available on "This Week in Berkeley Heights" on the town's community access station and on Berkeley Heights Patch.com on Thursday, Dec. 29, 2011.