CLOSTER, N.J.– Alissa Latner of Closter wears a lot of hats -- councilwoman, substitute teacher, mother, active member of Temple Beth El and too many others to list.
If you ask the busy 18-year resident of the small town she loves what she considers her most important job, she points to being a mother. She said she would have to scratch her head and think about what would come in second.
"I would have to say all I want is to make a positive difference in the world I live in," she said. "I don't consider myself a politician, but rather, an elected official who wants to give back."
And give back she does. Latner is one of those human dynamos who keeps the world spinning.
The former teacher worked for Fair Lawn Public Schools from 1987-1992, also taught in Warren Point and Radburn Schools.
She's shifted gears and in her role as Closter councilwoman, she serves as the Police Commissioner and the Fire Commissioner. She's also a member of the DPW committee, which she previously headed; a member of the Human Resources Committee; a Trustee on the Closter Library Board; and liaison to the Northern Valley Regional School District.
In her personal life, she has served on boards and committees so numerous that she can't even count them all. She jumps in and helps every group from Girl Scouts to the Temple Board, being a music parent, and ongoing school committees like the PTSO.
"It can be frustrating at times when more people aren't involved in their government until something goes wrong," she said. "But, I guess that's the way of the world. You just go on about your life until the garbage pick up might be changed up or until the discussion of raising taxes."
That's part of what she likes the best about her job as councilwoman. Latner said she likes to hear from residents and help them solve problems, which isn't always easy.
"Government moves very slowly and that can be frustrating to many people," the former educator and current substitute teacher said.
The best part for her, she says, is making Closter a better place for everyone to live.
She points to the new mall that's about to open that has been the site of an unfinished structure for a long time. Or keeping the budget down, and the many good things a lot of the employees and many dedicated volunteers of Closter are doing to help the community.
She gets excited rattling off things she just remembered: the new bus stations, the excellent library and the great police department. There are even more she said, that aren't coming immediately to mind.
The negative parts include the high rate of taxes in Bergen County and the cost to live there. But that's a state issue and one she said she doesn't have much power to change.
Although she has no plans to slow down soon, with her last two children graduating from high school this year, Latner is thinking about what's ahead.
"I don't have a clue. It will be strange moving into this phase of my life without a million things to do associated with the children," she said. "It will be fun to see what happens next and what I end up doing with my time."If the past is any indication, it sure won't be sitting around doing nothing.