This article appeared in the November 05, 2021 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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Still knocking on doors at 97: America’s oldest mayor wins reelection

Julio Cortez/AP/File
Vito Perillo, a WWII vet who recently was sworn in as mayor of Tinton Falls, New Jersey, attends the swearing in of the New Jersey Senate, Jan. 9, 2018, in Trenton.
Peter Grier
Washington editor

You probably haven’t heard this, given all the other important post-election political news. But this week, Vito Perillo won a second term as mayor of Tinton Falls, New Jersey.

Mr. Perillo beat three opponents to keep his post as head of the small borough near the Jersey shore. He’ll continue to face such tough issues as financing the library and filling spots on the Chicken Advisory Board, which oversees the new backyard-poultry program.

Did we mention that Mr. Perillo is 97 years old? He’s likely the oldest mayor in the United States. 

“Thank you to my fellow residents for trusting me to lead Tinton Falls forward for the next four years,” he wrote on Facebook, following his victory.

Mr. Perillo remains a political newcomer. When he first ran for mayor, the World War II veteran had never held elective office. But he upset an incumbent with old-fashioned hard work: He knocked on every door in town. 

His main issue was rising local taxes. Working with the borough council was a learning process. But he ran for a second term saying he’d made tough decisions for fiscal prudence. 

“I stopped to think about why people might vote for me,” he wrote on Facebook. “Maybe it’s because I’m a WWII veteran, or an ‘old guy’ (hopefully not) ... My hope, however, is that it’s because you see that I care about our town and the people who live in it above anything else.”

He’s looking forward to a term in office that will end when he’s 101.

This article appeared in the November 05, 2021 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 11/05 edition
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