At 97 years old, Vito Perillo is at the height of his political career.
The WWII veteran has just completed his second term as mayor of Tinton Falls, New Jersey, beating three contenders in Tuesday’s non-partisan election.
“I stopped to think why people might vote for me,” Perillo wrote in a Facebook post thanking his constituents for re-electing him. “Maybe it’s because I’m a WWII veteran, or an ‘old man’ (hopefully not), or maybe it’s because you’ve read my flyer highlighting our accomplishments over the past 4 years. However, I hope this is because you see that I care most about our city and the people who live in it. “
Although there is no official record to support this, Perillo is considered the oldest mayor in the United States. This title makes him proud.
“At my age, the thing is that when people read and hear about it, they get excited,” he said in a recent interview with People magazine. “They say,” If he can do it … “”
His first foray into politics was at the age of 93, when he was unexpectedly elected as mayor of the New Jersey borough, which is about 40 miles south of Newark, in 2017. He himself said that he does not think he has a chance to win. …
Perillo was drafted into the Navy after graduating from high school, and subsequently worked as an electrical engineer for the Department of Defense for 38 years before retiring in 1980. At the end of his life, he was forced to run for mayor, he said, because he was increasingly worried about his property tax bill, the city’s spending practices and the police department scandals.
“I felt that our wonderful city could be dramatically improved,” said Perillo.
Perillo was completely new to politics, but he campaigned, knocking on every door in the city, which has about 18,000 inhabitants. During his first season of the campaign, Perillo wore two pairs of shoes.
To his surprise, however, it all paid off: he bypassed a two-term president who had spent nearly 20 years in local politics. Perillo’s victory brought him into the spotlight of the country.
He said he was “deeply grateful” for the opportunity to run the city and promised to cut municipal taxes and renegotiate the police department’s contract — both he managed to accomplish in his first term.
During his recent re-election campaign, Perillo touted those and other positive changes he made during his four years in office, such as investing in infrastructure and equipment for the area, paving more than 10.6 miles of roads and sidewalks, acquiring a new park, “where residents live. ” enjoy the salt ball and spend time with your family ”and install a“ long overdue ”traffic light.
He also prides himself on keeping city services large and small alike: “In the four years that I have been here, we have not missed a single garbage collection,” he said.
Residents of Tinton Falls were pleased with Perillo’s record, which, according to unofficial results from the Monmouth County Electoral Commission, received 2,209 votes in Tuesday’s election. His closest rival, retired schoolteacher Ellen Goldberg, lost 1,898 votes to him.
Now that the elections are over, Perillo is happy to get back to work.
“I promise to do my best every day so that every member of our community can be proud to live in Tinton Falls,” he promised.
Perillo, who was born in the Bronx in 1924, has lived in Tinton Falls for over 60 years. He settled in the city with his late wife May in 1960 and lives alone in the same three-bedroom house where they raised two daughters who still live nearby. His 64-year-old wife died in 2013.
While Perillo has a hard job controlling a $ 24 million budget and performing his duties as mayor, he appears to be a caring grandfather for four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. He was best man at his grandson Mike’s wedding and reserves a dinner date with his 28-year-old granddaughter Marlana every Wednesday afternoon.
“He was a stellar father and grandfather,” Perillo’s daughter, Anna Mae Perillo, told the Washington Post. “He’s my hero.”
His drive to keep working “is so inspiring,” she added. “He doesn’t want to be called the oldest mayor, he just wants to be known as a good mayor.”
He said he does not follow any special diet and believes that his commitment to physical activity has contributed to his long life. In addition to playing golf regularly, the mayor is also a member of the local YMCA, where he trains twice a week using “about 10 to 12 machines.”
“I think that’s why I’m here today,” he told The New York Times in a 2018 interview.
But, according to Perillo, apart from regular training, the mayor is really what makes him young. He plans to continue his civil service at least until the end of his four-year term – when he turns 101.
Perillo drives to the town hall every day in his Honda Accord, always wearing a suit and tie.
“I love my job,” he said. “It actually keeps me alive. It makes me move on. “