TINTON FALLS, N.J. (AP) – A 93-year-old World War II veteran scored a surprise victory over an incumbent New Jersey mayor in Tuesday’s election.
Vito Perillo defeated Tinton Falls Mayor Gerald Turning in the nonpartisan municipal race.
“I didn’t think I had a chance,” Perillo told NJ.com .
But his grandson, Mike Perillo-Gentile, said he wasn’t surprised. “When he wants to do something, he does it,” Perillo-Gentile said.
Perillo, a U.S. Navy veteran who served in the Pacific theater, told the Asbury Park Press his entry into the race was spurred by a pair of whistleblower lawsuits involving the police department that cost the borough a reported $1.1 million in settlements.
Turning was the borough police chief from 2004 to 2011 and also was the borough administrator from 2010 to 2014. He was seeking his second term as mayor after running unopposed in 2014.
Turning wished Perillo well in a brief statement on Facebook.
Perillo received 53 percent of the vote to Turning’s 46 percent, according to unofficial results from the Monmouth County Board of Elections.
Perillo said he wore out two pairs of shoes campaigning door-to-door.
“I had a tough road, but I thought I would give it a go,” he said.
“I think it’s great,” his granddaughter, Melissa Balsamello, said. “He’s fulfilled a dream he always had.”