Michael Signer

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Michael Signer
Michael Signer, Mayor of Charlottesville, Virginia.jpg
Mayor of Charlottesville, Virginia
In office
January 4, 2016 – January 2, 2018
Preceded by Satyendra Huja
Succeeded by Nikuyah Walker
Personal details
Political party Democratic
Alma mater Princeton University (B.A.)
University of California, Berkeley (Ph.D.)
University of Virginia (J.D.)
Profession Author, attorney
Website michaelsigner.com

Atri Michael Signer is a former mayor of Charlottesville, Virginia,[1][2] an author, and attorney. He is a Virginia Democratic Party member and former candidate for lieutenant governor. A lecturer at the University of Virginia, he has worked for the Center for American Progress, and with John Podesta on Barack Obama's State Department Transition Team.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Signer is the son of Marjorie B. Signer, a communications director, and Robert Signer, a newspaper assignment editor.[4] He graduated from Washington-Lee High School in Arlington, Virginia,[5] and magna cum laude from Princeton University.

He earned a Ph.D. in political science from the University of California, Berkeley, and a J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law, where he was a Clerk at the Legal Aid Justice Center and Research Assistant to Professors A. E. Dick Howard and Michael Klarman. He was president of the Law Democrats, and co-founder of the UVA Chapter of the American Constitution Society. At UVA, he founded the UVA Coalition for Progress on Race, and went on to co-found the Center for the Study of Race and Law.[citation needed]


Signer is the author of Becoming Madison: The Extraordinary Origins of the Least Likely Founding Father (PublicAffairs 2015), a book about leadership and statesmanship that is also an intellectual and psychological biography of young James Madison and his rivalry with his nemesis Patrick Henry in the ratification of the U.S. Constitution. Signer wrote Demagogue: The Fight to Save Democracy from Its Worst Enemies (2009).[6] He has published articles, essays, and book reviews in the University of Richmond Law Review,[7] Corporate Counsel,[8] The Washington Post,[9] The New Republic,[10][11] and the Daily Beast.[12][13]

In 2006, he wrote an article on progressive American exceptionalism, titled "City on a Hill",[14] in the inaugural issue of Democracy: A Journal of Ideas. Signer teaches nonfiction writing at Politics and Prose, a bookstore in Washington, D. C.[15]

Law career[edit]

Signer in 2006

Signer is the founder and managing principal of Madison Law & Strategy Group, PLLC, where, since 2010, he has practiced corporate and regulatory law. He is co-chair of the Business Law Section of the Charlottesville-Albemarle Bar Association.[citation needed] He also chaired the Pro Bono Committee of the Young Lawyers Conference of the Virginia State Bar.[16]

A voting rights attorney, he was statewide director for the 2004 program directed by the Democratic National Committee. In 2010, he traveled to Panjshir Province, Afghanistan, as a member of a USAID-sponsored mission to monitor Afghanistan's parliamentary elections.[17] He founded and co-chaired the New Electoral Reform Alliance for Virginia.[18]

Public service[edit]

Signer is chair of the Emergency Food Network, president of the Fifeville Neighborhood Association, and a member of the steering committee of the West Main Street Redevelopment Project in Charlottesville. He is a former member of the Board of Directors of the Center for National Policy. He is a principal and former board member of the Truman National Security Project,[citation needed] and is co-chair of the New Dominion Project PAC, a Virginia-based political action committee.[citation needed]

In the 2008 elections, Signer was foreign policy advisor to the John Edwards for President campaign.[19] He was later senior strategist on the 2008 Congressional campaign of Tom Perriello. Signer was senior policy advisor at the Center for American Progress, and later that year worked with John Podesta on President-Elect Barack Obama's State Department Transition Team.[3]

In 2009, Signer was a candidate for the Democratic nomination for Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, receiving only 21% of the vote.[20]

From 2009 to 2013, Signer was an appointee by Governor Tim Kaine to Virginia's Board of Medicine. He was a member of the finance committee for Terry McAuliffe for governor, and later served as chair of Governor-elect McAuliffe's Transition Council on Homeland Security.[16] Earlier in his career, he was legislative aide to then-Delegate Creigh Deeds. Signer created an Advisory Council on Innovation and Technology to link stakeholders in the Charlottesville technology sector. Governor Terry McAuliffe appointed him to the Council on Virginia's Future.[citation needed]

Mayor of Charlottesville[edit]

On January 4, 2016, Charlottesville City Council elected Signer as the city's new mayor, succeeding outgoing mayor Satyendra Huja.[21] Signer took office the same evening.[21]

As mayor, Signer worked with the city council to create a Blue Ribbon Commission on Race, Memorials, and Public Spaces to address controversies over Confederate statues in Charlottesville.[22] Charlottesville also hired the city's first African-American police chief during Signer's tenure.[23] During Signer's tenure as mayor, Charlottesville was named by Entrepreneur as the #4 City in the U.S. for entrepreneurship.[24]

During Signer's tenure, the city council created an Open Data policy,[25] and required agencies to register voters to vote online.[26]

Personal life[edit]

Signer, who is Jewish, lives in Charlottesville with his wife, Emily Blout, and their twin sons.[27][28]


  1. ^ "Mike Signer, Mayor, City of Charlottesville". Retrieved January 31, 2016. 
  2. ^ "Charlottesville City Council Elects Nikuyah Walker as Mayor, Heather Hill as Vice Mayor". Retrieved 2018-01-04. 
  3. ^ a b Shipman, Tim (2008-10-18). "Barack Obama's team is briefed by Bush staff after warnings about a terrorist attack". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved February 28, 2011. 
  4. ^ "Emily Blout and Michael Signer". The New York Times. April 1, 2012. 
  5. ^ "3 Dem Gubernatorial Candidates Clash in Richmond". Falls Church News-Press. 2009-02-15. Archived from the original on 2011-07-16. Retrieved 2009-02-12. 
  6. ^ "Demagogue: The Fight to Save Democracy from Its Worst Enemies: Michael Signer: 9780230606241:". amazon.com. Retrieved February 23, 2015. 
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-06-05. Retrieved 2014-06-12. 
  8. ^ "May You Live in Less Interesting Times: The Value of a Regulatory and Policy 'Audit'". Corporate Counsel. Retrieved August 16, 2017. 
  9. ^ "'Bourbon: A History of the American Spirit' by Dane Huckelbridge". Washington Post. Retrieved February 23, 2015. 
  10. ^ Michael Signer. "Michael Signer Reviews Robert W. Merry's "Where They Stand: The American Presidents in the Eyes of Voters and Historians"". The New Republic. Retrieved February 23, 2015. 
  11. ^ Michael Signer. "The Ironic Populist: How Herman Cain's Insurgency Marks the Beginning of a New Political Era". The New Republic. Retrieved February 23, 2015. 
  12. ^ "Why The Tea Party Won't Go Away And More Wisdom From Matt Kibbe". The Daily Beast. Retrieved February 23, 2015. 
  13. ^ "How to Beat the Demagogues". The Daily Beast. Retrieved February 23, 2015. 
  14. ^ "Michael Signer for Democracy Journal: A City on a Hill". Democracy Journal. Archived from the original on February 23, 2015. Retrieved February 23, 2015. 
  15. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-07-14. Retrieved 2014-06-12. 
  16. ^ a b "Madison Law & Strategy - Michael Signer". madisonpllc.com. Retrieved February 23, 2015. 
  17. ^ Signer, Mike (2010-09-09). "Election Protection in Afghanistan". Huffington Post. 
  18. ^ The Washington Post. "A. Michael Signer". Archived from the original on October 4, 2012. Retrieved February 28, 2011. 
  19. ^ "It's a Scary World. Don't Campaign Reporters Care?". washingtonpost.com. Retrieved February 23, 2015. 
  20. ^ Virginia Elections: Results Archived 2009-07-13 at the Wayback Machine.; accessed February 17, 2015.
  21. ^ a b "Charlottesville City Council Elects Mike Signer as New Mayor". WVIR-TV. 2016-01-04. Retrieved 2017-08-19. 
  22. ^ "Monuments to the Battle for the New South". Politico. Retrieved August 16, 2017. 
  23. ^ "Al Thomas is Charlottesville's first black police chief". c-ville.com. April 20, 2016. Retrieved August 16, 2017. 
  24. ^ "Charlottesville Named No. 4 in the U.S. for Entrepreneurship". University of Virginia. July 27, 2016. Retrieved August 16, 2017. 
  25. ^ "Charlottesville City Council endorses open data goal". Charlottesville Tomorrow. 
  26. ^ Staff, News. "Charlottesville council votes for online voter registration". newsplex.com. Retrieved August 16, 2017. 
  27. ^ "Virginia Mayor Deluged with Anti-Semitic Hate After Speaking Out Against Rally Led by White Supremacist". People. May 16, 2017. 
  28. ^ "Jewish mayor in Virginia faces anti-Semitic tweets in aftermath of white supremacist protests". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. 

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