Bernie Sanders

Democratic Nominee

Professional Background Information

Bernie Sanders is a Democratic candidate for President of the United States. He is serving his second term in the U.S. Senate after winning re-election in 2012 with 71 percent of the vote. Sanders previously served as mayor of Vermont’s largest city for eight years before defeating an incumbent Republican to be the sole congressperson for the state in the U.S. House of Representatives. He lives in Burlington, Vermont with his wife Jane and has four children and seven grandchildren.

Born in 1941, politician Bernie Sanders started out his political career as the mayor of Burlington, Vermont in the early '80s. He served four terms as the leader of Vermont's biggest city from 1981 to 1989. Sanders then moved on to the national political arena by winning a seat in the House of Representatives. From 1991 to 2007, he distinguished himself as one of the country's few independent legislators. In 2007, Sanders won election to the U.S. Senate and was reelected in 2012. He announced his plans to run for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2015.

Early Life

Independent politician Bernie Sanders was born on September 8, 1941, in New York. He grew up in Brooklyn as the youngest of two sons of Jewish immigrants from Poland. His father worked as a paint salesman. As part of a struggling working-class family, Sanders recognized early on America's economic disparity. As he told the Guardian newspaper, "I saw unfairness. That was the major inspiration in my politics," he said. Sanders also counts American socialist leader Eugene V. Debs as an important influence."It was a question for me of just basic justice — the fact that it was not acceptable in America at that point that you had large numbers of African-Americans who couldn't vote, who couldn't eat in a restaurant, whose kids were going to segregated schools, who couldn't get hotel accommodations living in segregated housing," he told the Burlington Free Press. "That was clearly a major American injustice and something that had to be dealt with." During the Vietnam War, Sanders had applied for conscientious objector status. Although his status was eventually rejected, by then he was too old to be drafted.

Education

Sanders attended Brooklyn's James Madison High School and then went on to Brooklyn College. After a year there, he transferred to the University of Chicago. Sanders became involved in the Civil Rights Movement during his university days. He was a member of the Congress of Racial Equality, also known as CORE. With CORE, Sanders participated in a sit-in against the segregation of off-campus housing in 1962. He also served as an organizer for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. In 1963 he participated in the March on Washington. After finishing college in 1964 with a degree in political science, Sanders lived on a kibbutz in Israel before settling in Vermont. He worked a number of jobs, including filmmaker and freelance writer, psychiatric aide, and teaching low-income children through Head Start, while his interest in politics grew.
Watch Bernie Sanders' full speech after Iowa caucuses