A 93-year-old World War II veteran has been elected mayor of a small New Jersey town, upsetting an incumbent opponent 30 years his junior.
On Tuesday, Vito Perillo defeated Tinto Falls Mayor Gerald Turning in the municipal race. The United States Navy veteran, who served in the Pacific theater, said he was motivated to enter the race after two whistleblower lawsuits involving the police department cost the borough $1.1 million in settlements, he told the Ashbury Park Press.
Turning had served as borough police chief from 2004 to 2011 and as the borough administrator from 2010 to 2014, The Associated Press reported. He was unopposed in his 2014 mayoral race and was seeking a second term.
— ABC News (@ABC) November 9, 2017
The newly minted mayor-elect told NJ.com that the win was unexpected.
“I didn’t think I had a chance,” he said.
After the election, Turning wished his successor well and thanked his supporters in a statement on Facebook.
To all my supporters I️ want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. However the citizens of Tinton Falls have elected a new mayor. I️ sincerely wish him well.
In his own statement, Perillo told thanked Turning as well for his “dedication and long service to the town of Tinton Falls,” and said he was “profoundly grateful” for his supporters.
“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!” Perillo wrote.
My Fellow Residents,Tonight we took the first step in creating a new and inclusive form of government in Tinton Falls….
Perillo wore out two pairs of shoes during his door-to-door quest while campaigning, he said.
“I had a tough road, but I thought I would give it a go,” he said.
NEW JOB: 93-year-old World War Two veteran Vito Perillo has been elected mayor of Tinton Falls, NJ! pic.twitter.com/tEAHvV325W
— ABC World News Now (@abcWNN) November 8, 2017
Perillo’s grandson, Mike Perillo-Gentile, told NJ.com that he wasn’t surprised his grandfather came out of the mayoral race as the victor.
“When he wants to do something, he does it,” Perillo-Gentile said.
Perillo’s granddaughter, Melissa Balsamello, said her grandfather is finally fulfilling a lifelong dream. His first order of business when taking office will be to set a reasonable budget for the next year, he told CNN.
(H/T: The Associated Press)