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First Mention: Bernie Sanders Runs For Re-Election As Burlington, Vt., Mayor


We're going to return to our feature here on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED where we dig into the NPR vaults for the first time we referred to a particular person or thing on the air. We call it...


UNIDENTIFIED MEN: First mention.


Well, we found first mentions for all of this year's presidential candidates. For example, back on February 27, 1983, we aired a story on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED called "Socialist Mayor Stirs Vermont Politics."

SIEGEL: Reporter Paul McIssac went to Burlington, Vt., to report on a local mayoral debate.


PAUL MCISSAC, BYLINE: The turnout for the debate was large and spirited but not because the issues are unusual. Rather, it is the current mayor of Burlington that is the focus in this campaign - Bernard Sanders, or Bernie, as he is called here. Bernie is a socialist.

CORNISH: In 1983, Bernie Sanders was in his first term as Burlington mayor and was running for reelection. He faced a challenge from both a Republican and a Democrat. And Sanders defended himself in the debate by declaring that a socialist mayor could still take care of practical problems.


BERNIE SANDERS: We have got to deal on a day-to-day situation. How do we get the people on issues that make sense to them? Last night, we won a tremendous victory - great socialist victory. You know what we go? We got snowplows for the people so that this wintertime, our sidewalks are going to be in good shape where they have not been in years to go.

One of the more important things that we have done - the elderly can now walk the streets of Burlington, Vt., in the winter. I didn't know that Lenin or Trotsky wrote about that in particular, but that is a major victory for us and of great importance.

SIEGEL: And back in February 1983, Bernie Sanders also made a prediction for the upcoming mayoral election.


SANDERS: Four years ago, we had about 8,000 people who came out to vote for mayor. My guess is that on March 1, 50 percent more people will be coming out, people who, in the past, did not feel part of the political process. And in the final analysis, if change is going to come about, that kind of awakening has got to take place throughout the United States of America.

CORNISH: Sound familiar - well, Sanders went on to win reelection that year by more than 20 points and ultimately served four terms as mayor of Burlington, Vt. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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