She went to college in Hawaii and Idaho, where she received a Bachelors degree in communications-journalism and a minor in political science.
In 1992, Palin ran for a three year term on the Wasilla city council. She won, and ended up winning a second three year term in 1995. In 1996, she ran against John Stein for the office of Mayor of Wasilla. She won this race as well, after she criticized Stein for his wasteful spending and high taxes.
In 1997, Palin fired the police chief of Wasilla and the librarian, saying she wanted the change because the two didn't support her administration. The police chief filed suit, but the court dismissed it. Palin ended up hiring the librarian back after the residents of Wasilla made clear their support for it.
While mayor, Palin reduced her own salary and reduced property taxes by 40%.
Palin won a second term in 1999 in a landslide.
The office of mayor in Wasilla has term limits, so Palin was not eligible to run again.
Palin chaired the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission from 2003 to 2004 as well as serving as Ethics Supervisor. In January of 2004, Palin resigned her position in protest of the "lack of ethics" of fellow Republican members.
Palin ran for Governor in 2006 on a "clean-government" platform. She defeated the sitting Republican governor in the primary and became the first female governor of Alaska at the age of 42, winning the popular vote by 48.3 percent to her opponent's 40.9 percent.
Palin doesn't appear to have any issue breaking with Republican establishment when she feels it's called for. When she bucks the system, she does so publicly and (it appears to me) with integrity. She publicly challenged Ted Stevens to come clean in his financial dealings (for which he was being investigated) but also held a joint news conference with him shortly before he was indicted... not willing to completely abandon him at a low point in his life.
Palin is a strong proponent for oil and natural gas exploration and drilling in Alaska, including in ANWR. She has created groups of advisers to try to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in her state. She has refused to commit herself to a position of belief in man-made climate change, however.
The state of Alaska, because of high oil prices, has generated a surplus from tax on the oil companies. Palin proposed sending Alaskans $1200 in rebates to help them pay for their increased energy costs over the year from this surplus.
Palin objected to listing polar bears as an endangered species and filed a lawsuit to stop the listing. She said the move was premature and was not the appropriate management tool for the bears' welfare. There was much speculation and fear that the listing would hurt oil and gas development off Alaska's northern and northwestern coasts.
From all I can tell, Palin follows through on what she says. While campaigning for governor, she promised to sell a jet purchased by the previous administration on state government credit. She sold the jet on eBay in August of 2007. She campaigned on a "clean government" platform, and promptly went through and cleaned up the government. If there were people in office who didn't belong there, she threw them out posthaste.
Palin and her administration are currently under investigation for allegations of "potential abuses of power and/or improper actions by members of the executive branch." This is due to her dismissal of Public Safety Commissioner Walter Monegan. She had offered him a different job as director of the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, but he didn't want it. Monegan accuses Palin of dismissing him in retaliation for his failure to fire Palin's former brother-in-law. Most people have heard about this, but the news generally doesn't cover the fact that her brother in law had made death threats against Palin's father, among other things. Wooten had been officially disciplined for this behavior -- but was then in a bitter child-custody battle with Palin's sister. It's a messy situation...
Palin is strongly pro-life, living this belief out in her own life. Her youngest son, Trig, was prenatally diagnosed with Down Syndrome. When this happened, she announced that her child was going to be "special in many ways." Palin's daughter, Bristol, is five months pregnant at the age of seventeen. She plans to marry her boyfriend and keep her baby.
So this is what I've been able to glean about Sarah Palin's life, her beliefs, and her integrity. I don't think this page finds her to be perfect, but it does find her to be decent. All in all, I really think she was a good choice for McCain. I've heard people decry her lack of experience -- but, in some respects, if she's a person with wisdom and integrity and she lacks "political experience," this might actually be a plus. Frankly, a lack of political experience is going to be coupled by a lack of cynicism. Remember "Mr. Smith Goes To Washington?" No offense to Washington, but I think we could all use at least ONE Jimmy Stewart there.
I also have to think it's a bit funny when the Obama supporters slam Palin for her lack of experience. Really, do you think she's not experienced enough to be Vice President, but Obama is experienced enough for the main job? This idea is really too much.
Really, what is it that would give a person adequate experience to become President of the United States? How does one train for the position of "leader of the free world?" Certainly not by putting 50 years of one's life into a senate seat... One could argue that a governorship lends one the managerial expertise needed in the Presidency... but I'm pretty sure that once you go from governing a state to "leader of the free world," it's a very different ball game.
So, I guess I'd like to choose for president the person with the highest level of integrity and honor -- the person who has exhibited the ability to think outside the box, be creative and resourceful, and who says and lives what they believe. Too bad we don't have anybody like that running for President. But I have to say, I think I'm glad that we have somebody like that as next in line.