He’s a late bloomer in the political world, but he’s showed tremendous staying power.
On Tuesday, Vito Perillo, who turned 97 in September, was re-elected to his second term as mayor of Tinton Falls, New Jersey.
“They tell me I’m the oldest mayor in the country,” Perillo told NJ Advance Media adding that he feels “pretty good. I think everybody in the borough feels good, too. They were all happy for me this morning.”
The great-grandfather of six and World War II veteran who served in the Pacific Theater beat three other mayoral candidates winning 38% of the 5,826 votes cast. His closest opponent notched 1,898 votes.
During his first term, he oversaw $8 million in road projects and $4 million in park and recreation upgrades, including adding a pickleball court, which has clearly resonated with voters.
“They tell me you can’t get near that pickleball court,” he said of its popularity.
In 2017, a then 93-year-old Perillo was prompted to run over rising property taxes and a pair of whistleblower lawsuits against the police department cost the town $1.1 million in settlements.
He told The Post at the time that he wore out two pairs of shoes going door to door to campaign. But all that mileage was worth it. Perillo upset the then-incumbent mayor Gerald M. Turning by winning 53% of the vote to Turning’s 46%.
Perillo was born in The Bronx and moved to Monmouth County in high school. The father of two daughters worked as a civilian purchasing official for the US Army at Fort Monmouth, and served in the South Pacific before returning to New Jersey to start a family. His wife of 64 years, Mamie, passed away in 2013 at 89.
He will become a centenarian in 2024 — the third year of his second term.
He plans to serve his second term but won’t seek a third.
“Oh, no, this is it. I’ve got to have some time to myself,” he quipped.
In addition to his political proposals, voters might also be interested in his secret to longevity and if that includes pickleball.
“I feel really good,” he said. “After my last physical, two months ago, I was glad when my family physician told me don’t come back for another two years.”