93-Year-Old WWII Veteran Ousts Incumbent New Jersey Mayor
Vito Perillo wore out two pairs of shoes knocking on every door in Tinton Falls, and was elected to a four-year term
Vito Perillo, a 93-year-old World War II veteran, pulled off an Election Day upset Tuesday when he ousted Tinton Falls Mayor Gerald M. Turning in New Jersey.
Perillo, a U.S. Navy veteran who served in the Pacific theater, told the Asbury Park Press that he wore out two pairs of shoes while traipsing about the town and knocking on every single door to court voters. At the end of the day, Perillo snatched 53 percent of the vote with 2,449 votes to Turning’s 46 percent and 2,146 votes.
"To all my supporters who made your voices heard at the polls, I am profoundly grateful," Perillo wrote in a Facebook post. "I look forward to partnering with each and every resident of this great town, and creating the two-way dialogue that I spoke of throughout my campaign."
"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 added.
In pulling off his upset victory, Perillo ousted Turning, 63, who had served in the police department for 30 years, seven of them as chief, and had served as the borough administrator from 2010 to 2014. Turning ran unopposed for mayor in 2014.
"I want to thank Mr. Gerald Turning for his dedication and long service to the town of Tinton Falls," Perillo wrote on Facebook. "I wish him and his family the best of luck and happiness in all their future endeavors."
Tinton Falls' mayoral elections are nonpartisan, and neither candidate ran officially with a political party.
The World War II veteran, who will be 97 by the end of his first term in office, said he was inspired to run after seeing that two whistleblower lawsuits cost Tinton Falls taxpayers $1.1 million in settlements. The lawsuits came about when two local police officers said they were harassed after they accused one of their co-workers of stealing municipal water, the Asbury Park Press reported.
"Instead of complaining about it, I've decided to do something about it," Perillo said during the campaign.