Bernard "Bernie" Sanders (born September 8, 1941) is the junior United States Senator from Vermont, elected on November 7, 2006. Before becoming Senator, Sanders represented Vermont's at-large district in the United States House of Representatives for 16 years. Sanders also served as mayor of Burlington, Vermont from 1981 through 1989.
Sanders is a self-described democratic socialist, and has praised European social democracy. He is the first person elected to the U.S. Senate to identify as a socialist. Sanders caucuses with the Democratic Party and is counted as a Democrat for the purposes of committee assignments, but because he does not belong to a formal political party, he appears as an independent on the ballot. He was also the only independent member of the House during much of his service there. He is one of two independent Senators in the 111th Congress, along with Joe Lieberman.
Sanders, the son of Jewish Polish immigrants to the United States, was born in Brooklyn. He graduated from James Madison High School in Brooklyn and later attended the University of Chicago, graduating with a B.A. in political science in 1964. After graduating from college, Sanders spent time on an Israeli kibbutz, an experience which shaped his political views. In 1964, Sanders moved to Vermont, where he worked as a carpenter, filmmaker, writer and researcher, among other jobs.