TINTON FALLS, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — When Vito Perillo was born, Calvin Coolidge was president, a Nathan’s hot dog cost a nickel, and women had only had the right to vote nationally for four years.
On Tuesday, he was elected to be the next mayor of Tinton Falls, New Jersey, upsetting the current mayor by 300 votes.
The 93-year-old Perillo is a World War II veteran, he and his brother served in the Navy together. He later worked as an electronics engineer, then an accountant, and says he never really retired.
So why start a political career now?
“The tax rate went up considerably and I thought I got to do something about it,” Perillo told CBS2’s Cindy Hsu.
He says he saw his neighbors suffering financially when the municipal tax went up more than 13 percent in the last few years.
“He’s never been the kind of guy that sits around and complains,” grandson Mike Perillo-Gentile said. “He’d rather get out and do something about it. And I think that’s why he decided to run for mayor.”
Perillo was also upset about two whistleblower lawsuits involving the police department that cost taxpayers more than $2 million in settlements.
The incumbent, Mayor Gerald Turning, had been police chief for seven years. Perillo says he wants a more transparent administration.
“I’m the mayor of all the people, even the people who didn’t vote for me,” he said.
Perillo is a widower who was married for 64 years, and says his family means everything. When he decided to run just four months ago, everyone helped campaign as he walked door to door.
“He’s fit and witty and he just has decades left in him,” granddaughter Melissa Belsamello said to anyone concerned about Vito’s age.
“93 is just a number,” friend JC Menna said. “Vito is 93 going on 36. Basically the way I was telling everyone the guy still comes out and plays golf with us.”
His great-granddaughter Emily thinks he’s going to be a very good mayor who will be just like he is with his family, which is “generous and loving and always cares about you.”
Perillo will be sworn in as mayor in January, and will be 97-years-old at the end of his term.