Vito Perillo, a 93-year-old World War II veteran, pulled off a big upset win last week ousting the incumbent mayor of a town on the Jersey Shore.
Perillo, who served in the US Navy in the South Pacific, was inspired to run because of Tinton Falls’ high property taxes — an issue vexing just about every property owner in New Jersey.
So Perillo tells people he wore out one-and-a-half pairs of shoes walking to every home in the borough as he campaigned on promises of transparency and lower municipal taxes.
A first-time campaigner who never ran for any office before, Perillo knew he was a long-shot against Mayor Gerald Turning (63), Tinton Falls’ former police chief and borough administrator.
But no matter.
“If anyone’s 93-year-old grandfather came to them and said, ‘I want to run for mayor,’ they would think he was a bit crazy,” says Perillo’s grandson, Michael Perillo-Gentile, 28. “But they don’t know my grandfather. When the results came in last Tuesday night that Perillo had defeated Turning, I was elated, I felt good,” Perillo said.
“More importantly I was happy for my family, I could see the smiles on their faces. The fact that I worked so hard made it that much nicer.”
Perillo, a retired electronics engineer for the department of defence, will be 97 at the end of his term.
“From the present mayor,” Perillo says, “who said at 93 it was kinda late to get into politics or something to that effect, that I wasn’t up to doing the job — but I knew better, I say nonsense.”
People emailed Turning for comment, but has not yet received a reply.
Age, to him, is really just a number.
“If you want something bad enough and you work hard enough you can achieve your goals,” Perillo says. “You gotta keep active and not sit around all day.” – People
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