Despite his advanced age, World War II Navy veteran Vito Perillo, 93, was elected mayor of Tinton Falls, New Jersey, in a shocking election upset on Tuesday.
According to unofficial results from the Monmouth County Board of Elections, Perillo defeated incumbent Mayor Gerald M. Turning with 53 percent of the vote compared to Turning’s 46 percent. The margin was reportedly 2,449 to 2,146.
Perillo was inspired to run for mayor after a pair of whistleblower lawsuits involving the police department ended up costing the borough a reported $1.1 million in settlements.
“I wanted to run because I was upset with some of the things this administration is doing,” said Perillo, who noted on Facebook that he values transparency and wants to “give a voice back to the residents.”
“I want to create an inclusive and transparent form of government where residents actually have a say in the decisions that impact their lives,” wrote Perillo in his bid for the position. “This is what differentiates me from Mr. Turning at the core.”
As part of his 30-year career in the police department, Turning, 63, was the borough police chief from 2004 to 2011. He was also the borough administrator from 2010 to 2014. He ran unopposed for mayor in 2014 and was seeking his second term.
Perillo said he wore out two pairs of shoes going door-to-door for his campaign, but it was apparently worth it.
Following his victory, a “profoundly grateful” Perillo took to Facebook to say, “Tonight, transparency, accountability and community empowerment won out, and I can’t wait to get started working as hard as I can for all of the great residents of this town.”
He also thanked Turning “for his dedication and long service to the town of Tinton Falls.”
Perillo will be 97 at the end of his term.
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