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Sarah Louise Palin i/ˈpeɪlɨn/ (née Heath; born February 11, 1964) is an American politician, commentator and author. As the Republican Party nominee for Vice President in the 2008 presidential election, she was the first Alaskan on the national ticket of a major party and first Republican woman nominated for the vice presidency. Her book Going Rogue has sold more than two million copies. Since January 2010, she has provided political commentary for Fox News, and hosted a television show, Sarah Palin's Alaska. Five million viewers tuned in for the first episode, a record for TLC.
She was elected to Wasilla City Council in 1992 and became mayor of Wasilla in 1996. In 2003, after an unsuccessful run for lieutenant governor, she was appointed Chairman of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, responsible for overseeing the state's oil and gas fields for safety and efficiency. The youngest person and first woman to be elected Governor of Alaska, Palin held the office from December 2006 until her resignation in July 2009. She has since endorsed and campaigned for the Tea Party movement, as well as several candidates in the 2010 midterm elections. From the time of her Vice Presidential nomination in 2008, Palin was considered a potential candidate for the 2012 presidential election until she announced in October 2011 that she would not run.
1 Early life and family
3 Early career and marriage
4 Early political career
4.1 City council
4.2 Mayor of Wasilla
4.2.1 First term
4.2.2 Second term
4.3 State-level politics
5 Governor of Alaska
5.1 Budget, spending, and federal funds
5.1.1 Gubernatorial expenditures
5.1.2 Federal funding
5.1.3 Bridge to Nowhere
5.2 Gas pipeline
5.3 Predator control
5.4 Public Safety Commissioner dismissal
5.4.1 Legislative investigation
5.4.2 Branchflower Report
5.4.3 Alaska Personnel Board investigation and report
5.5 Job approval ratings
6 2008 vice-presidential campaign
7 After the 2008 election
7.1 Going Rogue and America by Heart
7.2 Tea Party movement
7.3 "Pink Elephant" movement and 2010 endorsements
7.4 Possible 2012 presidential and Senate campaign
8 Personal life
9 Political positions
9.1 Health care
9.2 Social issues
9.6 Foreign policy
10 Public image
13 External links
Early life and family
Palin was born in Sandpoint, Idaho. She is the third of four children (three daughters, one son) born to Charles R. "Chuck" Heath, a science teacher and track and field coach, and Sarah "Sally" (née Sheeran), a school secretary. Palin's siblings are Chuck Jr., Heather, and Molly. Palin is of English, Irish, and German ancestry.
When Palin was a few months old, the family moved to Skagway, Alaska, where her father received his teaching job. They relocated to Eagle River in 1969, and finally settled to Wasilla in 1972.
Palin played flute in the junior high band, then attended Wasilla High School where she was the head of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and a member of the girls' basketball and cross country running teams. During her senior year, she was co-captain and point guard of the basketball team that won the 1982 Alaska state championship, earning the nickname "Sarah Barracuda" for her competitive streak.
After graduating from high school in 1982, Palin enrolled at the University of Hawaii at Hilo. Shortly after arriving in Hawaii, Palin transferred to Hawaii Pacific University in Honolulu for a semester in the fall of 1982, and then to North Idaho College, a community college in Coeur d'Alene, for the spring and fall semesters of 1983. In June 2008, the Alumni Association of North Idaho College gave Palin its Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award.
In 1984, Palin won the Miss Wasilla beauty pageant, then finished third in the Miss Alaska pageant. She played the flute in the talent portion of the contest, and received both the Miss Congeniality award and a college scholarship.
She enrolled at the University of Idaho in Moscow for an academic year, starting in August 1984, then attended Matanuska-Susitna College in Alaska in the fall of 1985. Palin returned to the University of Idaho in January 1986, and received her bachelor's degree in communications with an emphasis in journalism in May 1987.
Early career and marriage
After graduation, she worked as a sportscaster for KTUU-TV and KTVA-TV in Anchorage, and as a sports reporter for the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman, fulfilling an early ambition.
On August 29, 1988, she eloped at age 24 with her high school sweetheart, Todd Palin.
Following the birth of their first child, she helped in her husband's commercial fishing business.
Early political career
Main articles: Early political career of Sarah Palin and Electoral history of Sarah Palin
Palin was elected to the Wasilla City Council in 1992 winning 530 votes to 310. Throughout her tenure on the city council and the rest of her political career, Palin has been a Republican since registering in 1982.
Mayor of Wasilla
Concerned that revenue from a new Wasilla sales tax would not be spent wisely, Palin ran for mayor of Wasilla in 1996, defeating incumbent mayor John Stein 651 to 440 votes. Her biographer described her campaign as targeting wasteful spending and high taxes; her opponent, Stein, said that Palin introduced abortion, gun rights, and term limits as campaign issues. The election was nonpartisan, though the state Republican Party ran advertisements for Palin. Palin ran for re-election against Stein in 1999 and won, 909 votes to 292. In 2002, she completed the second of the two consecutive three-year terms allowed by the city charter. She was elected president of the Alaska Conference of Mayors in 1999.
Palin had a contretemps with the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman, a local newspaper, and became involved in personnel challenges and "a thwarted attempt to pack the City Council" during her first year in office. Using income generated by a 2% sales tax that had been approved by Wasilla voters in October 1992, Palin cut property taxes by 75% and eliminated personal property and business inventory taxes. Using municipal bonds, she made improvements to the roads and sewers, and increased funding to the Police Department. She also oversaw new bike paths and procured funding for storm-water treatment to protect freshwater resources. At the same time, she shrank the local museum's budget and deterred talk of a new library and city hall.
Soon after taking office in October 1996, Palin eliminated the position of museum director and asked for updated resumes and resignation letters from "city department heads who had been loyal to Stein," including the police chief, public works director, finance director, and librarian. Palin stated this request was to find out their intentions and whether they supported her. She temporarily required department heads to get her approval before talking to reporters, saying that they first needed to become acquainted with her administration's policies. She created the position of city administrator, and reduced her own $68,000 salary by 10%, although by mid-1998 this was reversed by the city council.
In October 1996, Palin asked library director Mary Ellen Emmons if she would object to the removal of a book from the library if people were picketing to have the book removed. Emmons responded that she would, and others as well. Palin explained that she not been proposing censorship but had been discussing many issues with her staff that were "both rhetorical and realistic in nature." No attempt was made to remove books from the library during Palin's tenure as mayor.
Palin said she fired Police Chief Irl Stambaugh because he did not fully support her efforts to govern the city. Stambaugh filed a lawsuit alleging wrongful termination and violation of his free speech rights. The judge dismissed Stambaugh's lawsuit, holding that the police chief served at the discretion of the mayor, and could be terminated for nearly any reason, even a political one, and ordered Stambaugh to pay Palin's legal fees.
Wasilla City Hall
Location of Wasilla, Alaska
During her second term as mayor, Palin proposed and promoted the construction of a municipal sports center to be financed by a 0.5% sales tax increase and $14.7 million bond issue. Voters approved the measure by a 20 vote margin and the Wasilla Multi-Use Sports Complex (later named the Curtis D. Menard Memorial Sports Center) was built on time and under budget. However, the city spent an additional $1.3 million because of an eminent domain lawsuit caused by the failure to obtain clear title to the property before beginning construction. The city's long-term debt grew from about $1 million to $25 million due to $15 million for the sports complex, $5.5 million for street projects, and $3 million for water improvement projects. The Wall Street Journal characterized the project as a "financial mess." A city council member defended the spending increases as being caused by the city's growth during that time.
Palin also joined with nearby communities in hiring the Anchorage-based lobbying firm of Robertson, Monagle & Eastaugh to lobby for federal funds. The firm secured nearly $8 million in earmarks for the Wasilla city government, including $500,000 for a youth shelter, $1.9 million for a transportation hub, and $900,000 for sewer repairs.
In 2008, Wasilla's current mayor credited Palin's 75 percent property tax cuts and infrastructure improvements with bringing "big-box stores" and 50,000 shoppers per day to Wasilla.
In 2002, Palin ran for the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor, coming in second to Loren Leman in a five-way Republican primary. Following her defeat, she campaigned throughout the state for the nominated Republican governor-lieutenant governor ticket of Frank Murkowski and Leman. Murkowski and Leman won, Murkowski resigned from his long-held U.S. Senate seat in December 2002 to assume the governorship. Palin was said to be on the "short list" of possible appointees to Murkowski's U.S. Senate seat, but Murkowski ultimately appointed his daughter, State Representative Lisa Murkowski, as his successor in the Senate.
Governor Murkowski offered other jobs to Palin, and in February 2003, she accepted an appointment to the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, which oversees Alaska's oil and gas fields for safety and efficiency. While she had little background in the area, she said she wanted to learn more about the oil industry, and was named chair of the commission and ethics supervisor. By November 2003 she was filing non-public ethics complaints with the state attorney general and the governor against a fellow commission member, Randy Ruedrich, a former petroleum engineer and at the time the chair of the state Republican Party. He was forced to resign in November 2003. Palin resigned in January 2004 and put her protests against Ruedrich's "lack of ethics" into the public arena by filing a public complaint against Ruedrich, who was then fined $12,000. She also joined with Democratic legislator Eric Croft in complaining that Gregg Renkes, then the attorney general of Alaska, had a financial conflict of interest in negotiating a coal exporting trade agreement. Renkes also resigned his post.
From 2003 to June 2005, Palin served as one of three directors of "Ted Stevens Excellence in Public Service, Inc.," a 527 group designed to provide political training for Republican women in Alaska. In 2004, Palin told the Anchorage Daily News that she had decided not to run for the U.S. Senate that year against the Republican incumbent Lisa Murkowski because her teenage son opposed it. Palin said, "How could I be the team mom if I was a U.S. Senator?"