On March 5, 1985, incumbent Mayor Bernie Sanders won his third term with 55.2% of the popular vote in a seven-way race. His leading challengers were Democratic nominee Brian D. Burns and Independent Diane Gallagher.[1]

Mayor Sanders, who initially considered not seeking a third term, announced that he would run on December 5, 1984. He formally launched his campaign on December 7, entering the race as the favorite.[2]

He said at the announcement:

“During the last three and a half years, I think it is fair to say that there has been no municipal government in Vermont history that has attempted to do more for working people, the elderly, and the low income. As long as I am Mayor, I will advocate (for) a strong social policy, which is based on human compassion, a striving for a sense of neighborhood and a sense of community, and a deep-felt belief in justice and human dignity.”[3]

He also praised the economic boom that Burlington was enjoying after his first two terms[3]:

“Economic development is caused by 100 different factors. To the degree that a city itself can play an active role, I will defend the record of the office of community and economic development as perhaps the best office of its kind in the United States.”[3]

His final term as Mayor would go on to build upon the success of his first two terms. When Bernie left office in 1989, Alderman Terrill Bouricius, a member of the Burlington city council, stated that Sanders had “changed the entire nature of politics in Burlington and also in the state of Vermont.” He added: “It is no exaggeration to say that issues of health care, child care, and tax reform would not be on the front burner as they are if Bernie Sanders had not been Mayor.”[4]

On Bernie’s last day in office as Mayor, the Republican Chairman Allen Gear and the entire City Council renamed Burlington “Bernietown.”