A 93-year-old World War II veteran will hold elected office for the first time in his long life after winning the race for mayor in a New Jersey borough Tuesday.
Vito Perillo narrowly unseated the current mayor of Tinton Falls, Gerald Turning, winning 53 percent of the vote in the nonpartisan municipal race. Perillo, who served with the US Navy in the South Pacific from 1944-47, garnered 300 more votes than Turning, according to unofficial election results from the Monmouth County Clerk’s Office.
Perillo, who has been a resident of Tinton Falls for more than 50 years, ran on a platform calling for lower taxes and more transparency.
He was partially driven to run after a whistleblower lawsuit against the police department ended in a settlement that cost taxpayers $1.1 million,he told the Asbury Park Press.
“As mayor, I will ensure your voice is heard when it comes to making important financial decisions and create a culture of accountability,” he said in a video posted to his Facebook page in October.
Perillo said when he campaigned, residents of Tinton Falls were eager to hear his message and even “encouraged him.”
“They thought my plans made good sense,” he told CNN. “They believed in my message.”
Turning was elected after running unopposed in 2014 and had previously been a member of the borough’s police force, according to ABC News.
On Tuesday night, Turning went on Facebook to thank his supporters and wish Perillo well as the new mayor.
Turning did not respond to CNN’s requests for comment.
When Perillo takes office, his first goal will be to set a reasonable budget for the next year, he said.
“I’m glad [the campaign] is over and I’m anxious to get to work,” he said.