Anthony Pollina was born in Ridgewood, New Jersey on February 17, 1952, the son of Salvatore Pollina and Matilda (Corbo) Pollina. In 1977, he graduated from Johnson State College with a bachelor's degree in political science and environmental studies. At Johnson State, his professors included Bill Doyle, with whom he later served in the State Senate.
Pollina's career includes working as a teacher and the headmaster for an alternative school. In addition, he has taught at Johnson State College, the Community College of Vermont and Vermont College.
In addition to serving in the legislature, Pollina is head of the Vermont Democracy Fund.
Pollina served as a Senior Policy Advisor for then Congressman Bernie Sanders from 1991-1996.
He worked as policy director and executive director for the Vermont Public Interest Research Group in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
During the 1997 and 1998 sessions of the Vermont Legislature, Pollina advocated for campaign finance legislation that established public funding for statewide political campaigns. In 2002, when his campaign for lieutenant governor failed to qualify for public funding, he filed suit in federal court to overturn the law.
In 2003, Pollina started Equal Time Radio, a political and current events radio show broadcast on Waterbury's WDEV. He quit the radio program in 2007 in order to run for governor.
Pollina was a founding board member of the Vermont Milk Company, a farmer owned and operated dairy in Hardwick, Vermont. The company was established in 2006 with a focus on paying farmers a higher than average price for milk and marketing the products locally. Pollina resigned in 2008 to focus on his campaign for governor.
In 1984, Pollina won a Democratic Party primary for Congress against Paul Forlenza and John Tatro. Pollina received 44% of the vote, Forlenza received 24% and Tatro received 27%. Pollina was defeated in the general election by incumbent Republican James Jeffords, winning 27% of the vote to Jeffords' 65%.
In 2000, Pollina ran for Governor of Vermont as a member of the Vermont Progressive Party, receiving 9.5% of the vote in the general election. Pollina ran against incumbent Democrat Howard Dean who received 50.4% of the vote and former State Representative Ruth Dwyer who received 38% of the vote. Due to new campaign financing laws, Pollina became the first candidate in the US to qualify for full public funding of his campaign.
In 2002, Pollina ran as the Progressive Party candidate for Lieutenant Governor of Vermont, receiving 25% of the vote against Republican Brian Dubie and State Senator Peter Shumlin.
In 2008, Pollina ran as an Independent candidate for governor, finishing second with 21.8% of the vote against Republican incumbent Jim Douglas, who won with 53.4% of the vote, and Democrat Gaye Symington who received 21.7% of the vote. The Pollina campaign received unusually strong labor support for an independent candidate, receiving the endorsements of the three largest unions in the state. On September 14, the 10,000 strong Vermont AFL-CIO voted to endorse Pollina; the endorsement came on the heels of the previous endorsements from the Vermont State Employees Association (10,000 members) and the Abenaki Nation (1500 members).
On May 15, Pollina received the endorsement of the Vermont-National Education Association and its 11,500 members. The endorsement by the NEA was the first time the union had backed an independent gubernatorial candidate. NEA-Vermont President Angelo Dorta stated that the endorsement of Pollina was partly because Symington “still tends to talk about our schools in terms of cost containment as opposed to investment”.
Pollina also garnered the support of the 3,000-member Gun Owners of Vermont. Along with the labor support, Pollina also received the endorsements and support of many public officials in the state including U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I); former Governor Philip H. Hoff (D); Bob Kiss (Progressive), the mayor of Burlington (the state's largest city); Vermont House Agriculture Committee chair David Zuckerman (Progressive); and the Vermont Progressive Party. Several prominent Democratic party activists formed Democrats for Pollina. Some of those involved were former state senators Harvey Carter, Janet Munt, and grassroots organizer Rebecca Moore. Several Vermont Democratic party officials also endorsed Pollina, such as Bristol chair Peter Grant.
In 2010, Anthony Pollina successfully ran for a State Senate seat in the three member Washington County district. He became the second Vermont Progressive Party member to sit in the Vermont Senate, after Tim Ashe, and they were later joined by Zuckerman. Pollina ran under a Democratic and Progressive party electoral alliance after he won the Democratic party primary. This tactic is known as electoral fusion.
Pollina was reelected in 2012, along with Washington County incumbents Bill Doyle and Ann Cummings, who defeated Republicans Buddy Barnett and Dexter LeFavour, and Independent Jeremy Hansen. Doyle finished first with 25.4% of all votes cast, Cummings placed second with 24.5%, and Pollina finished third with 21.8%.
In November 2012, Pollina won the "Lawmaker of the Year" award during his freshman term along with fellow lawmaker Rep. Bill Botzow, D-Bennington, by "Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility". He scored perfectly for the award based on his stance on health care reform, establishing a Genuine Process Indicator, and attempting to overturn the Citizens United court decision.
In 2014, Pollina was elected to another term, as Washington County reelected all three incumbent Senators. Incumbent Bill Doyle, a Republican, finished first with 10,918 votes. Democrat Ann Cummings had 10,669. Pollina received 9,923 votes, placing ahead of fourth-place finisher Patricia McDonald, who received 8,488.
Pollina was reelected to another term, as was incumbent Democrat Ann Cummings; incumbent Bill Doyle was defeated by Francis Brooks, the former majority leader of the Vermont House of Representatives and former Sergeant at Arms of the Vermont State House.Ann Cummings (D), 17,013, 22.4%
Anthony Pollina (P/D), 15,212, 20.00%
Francis Brooks (D), 13,689, 18%
Bill Doyle (R), 13,350, 17.6%
Mike Doyle (R), 8,384, 11%
Josh Fitzhugh (R), 8,233, 10.8%
He resides in Middlesex, Vermont with his wife Deborah; they are the parents of two daughters, Alessandra and Maya.
Pollina was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease after first noticing the symptoms during his 2008 campaign for governor. His condition worsened until he underwent surgery following his 2016 reelection. In a media interview, Pollina reported that post-surgery his symptoms had regressed significantly, though he did not know his future prognosis.