Tinton Falls has just re-elected its 97-year-old WWII veteran mayor to a second term in New Jersey, and he’s likely the nation’s oldest mayor.
New Jersey man Vito Perillo is a great-grandfather of six who served in the Pacific Theater.
Perillo defeated three other candidates, winning 38 percent of the 5,826 votes. The runner-up candidate gathered a mere 1,898 votes.
The town of 17,892 sits an hour’s drive south of New York City.
If the veteran is the oldest mayor, it’s hard to tell. The New Jersey League of Municipalities and US Council of Mayors in the District of Columbia do not track or keep up with ages, according to NJ.com.
Old Mayor With New Ideas?
The World War II veteran ran in 2017 and won on a campaign against rising property taxes and police misconduct that cost the city over a million dollars in settlements.
He told the New York Post he wore out two pairs of shoes with door-to-door campaigning to win a 53-to-46 percent race over the incumbent mayor.
Now, he’s back and ready to do more.
“They tell me I’m the oldest mayor in the country,” Perillo told NJ Advance Media, adding that he feels “pretty good.”
Also, in his first term, the veteran worked to complete $8 million in road projects and $4 million in park and recreation upgrades. His pickleball court addition seemed to draw voter appreciation and lots of use. He even uses it.
A Veteran, A Mayor, And His Last Term
Perillo says this last term is it for him. The veteran will be 100 by the third year of his second term.
The Bronx-born man moved to Monmouth County as a high schooler in the 1940s. He became a civilian purchasing official in the US Army at Fort Monmouth before heading to the South Pacific war. When he returned, he got a college degree and worked for the Defense Department for 38 years. He married in 1960 and had two daughters with his wife, Mamie. Perillo’s wife died in 2013 at age 89.
Currently, he lives alone in the three-bedroom home where he raised his two daughters. He told People Magazine he doesn’t eat a special diet, and one of his daughters brings over home-cooked meals.
“I don’t eat a special diet,” he says when asked about tips for his long, healthy life. Adds Anna Mae: “He has his hand on the pulse on everything that is going on in the town. He’s so engaged.”
Perillo is determined to finish out his second and last term. The World War II veteran said he feels good, and after his most-recent physical, the doctor told him not to return for “another two years.”
In an interview with People Magazine, Perillo said when people read about his age, he said, “they’re encouraged. They say, ‘if he can do it…”
The mayor went on to say he gets lots of letters from people all over the country.