FAIRFAX, Vt. >> U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ stepdaughter announced today that she is running for mayor of Burlington, Vermont, following in the footsteps of the independent senator and former presidential candidate who launched his political career from the office.
Carina Driscoll, 43, said she will run as an independent in the March election against incumbent Mayor Miro Weinberger, a Democrat, saying she will work to bring Burlington “to again be that vibrant, forward-thinking city where we are all so proud to live.”
“I feel like we need to bring some new leadership into city hall and we need to change the trajectory we’re on,” Driscoll said from her office at the Vermont Woodworking School in Fairfax, which she founded. “And I really feel we need to bring people together again and have mutually respectful challenging conversations and consult with people throughout the city about the right direction for Burlington in a way that I think we’ve been failing to do.”
She cited the handling of the sale of the city’s Burlington Telecom utility, saying that there wasn’t enough opportunity for public input.
Sanders said he and his wife, Jane, are very proud of Carina and all her accomplishments and want to be respectful of her desire to do this on her own.
“So, today is Carina’s day and her words and her ideas should be the focus, not anyone else’s,” he said in a statement.
Driscoll, who volunteered for Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign, said Sanders has had a tremendous impact on her and her family but her decision to run was her own.
“I certainly am walking in his footsteps but I definitely am on my own path,” she said.
Weinberger, who is seeking his third term, said Monday that he welcomes Driscoll and another independent candidate, Infinite Culcleasure, to the mayor’s race and looks forward to discussing the progress the city has made under his tenure.
“We have shown again and again that it is possible to make Burlington better for the middle class and our most vulnerable while also keeping tax rates low and restoring the city’s finances,” he said.
Driscoll said she first met Sanders when she was a child and he was giving a speech just days after he was elected mayor of Burlington in 1981, upsetting the status quo.
“It had a tremendous impact in that it was clear to me that he was a very powerful individual and he certainly had the attention of everybody in the room. And it was an exciting moment,” she said.
She defended her mother when asked about an investigation into a real estate deal that Jane Sanders was involved with as president of the now-defunct Burlington College. The college closed last year after struggling under the weight of a $10 million purchase of property and buildings it made in 2010 during Sanders’ presidency.
“She was a great president of Burlington College and I think if you go back and look at what was going on with the college at the time of her departure, enrollment was increasing … she was doing a good job. It’s unfortunate that when you’re related to a presidential candidate that you have to kind of go through the fire,” she said.