Attorney | Author | Husband | Father | Mayor
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Mike was elected to the Council in November 2015. In January 2016, Mike was unanimously selected by his peers to serve as Mayor. He served a two-year term as Mayor from 2016 to 2018, during which he worked with his colleagues and staff to enact major new commitments, including doubling the City's contribution to the Affordable Housing Fund; renewing and expanding the technology tax credit from five to seven years; passing the West Main Streetscape Plan; becoming the first Virginia city to require city agencies to register voters online; expanding support for immigrants and refugees; implementing a regionalism initiative with Albemarle County including five memorandums of understanding on key policy areas; implementing an Open Data Policy; cutting fees for over 400 small businesses grossing between $50,000 and $100,000 a year; allocating $80,000 to the rehabilitation of the historic African-American Daughters of Zion cemetery; passing anti-gentrification zoning protections for the Rose Hill and Woollen Mills Neighborhoods; implementing a wide range of recommendations from the Blue Ribbon Commission on Race, Memorials, and Public Spaces, including dedicating $900,000 to the African-American Heritage Center and re-instituting the Charlottesville Dialogue on Race; collaborating with Georgetown University to sue paramilitary organizations and individuals in the wake of the August 12 "Unite the Right" rally to prevent them from invading Charlottesville again; and overhauling Charlottesville's permitting regulations to enhance public safety.
City Council in Charlottesville is a part-time position. Mike's day-job is as Vice President and General Counsel of a major technology firm in Charlottesville. He also is a lecturer at the University of Virginia. He is a member of the Virginia and Washington, D.C. Bars and the Charlottesville-Albemarle Bar Association, where he served as Co-Chair of the Business Law Section. He has been a Democratic voting rights attorney in Virginia for many years and in 2010 monitored wartime Afghanistan's parliamentary elections on behalf of the U.S. government. Earlier in his career, he practiced law at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale & Dorr and as counsel to then-Governor Mark Warner. He also served as Chair of the Emergency Food Network and as President of the Fifeville Neighborhood Association.
He has written two books: Demagogue: The Fight to Save Democracy from Its Worst Enemies (Palgrave Macmillan 2009) and Becoming Madison: The Extraordinary Origins of the Least Likely Founding Father (PublicAffairs 2015). I've published essays and articles in venues including Time, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, The Richmond Times-Dispatch, The New Republic, USA Today, and The Daily Beast and have been interviewed by The New York Times, USA Today, NPR, MSNBC, Fox News, and the BBC. He previously served on the Board of Directors of the Center for National Policy and the Truman Educational Institute and am a principal of the Truman National Security Project. You can see more about my writing at www.michaelsigner.com.
Earlier in his career he served as counsel to Governor Mark Warner in Richmond, as senior strategist for Tom Perriello’s 2008 campaign for Congress, as legislative aide to then-Delegate Creigh Deeds, as national security director of the 2008 John Edwards for President campaign, and as senior policy advisor at the Center for American Progress. He was also a candidate for Lieutenant Governor of Virginia in 2009. That year, he was appointed by Governor Tim Kaine to a four-year term on Virginia’s Board of Medicine. I was a member of the Finance Committee for Terry McAuliffe’s 2013 campaign for governor and was chair of the Governor-elect’s Transition Council on Homeland Security. In 2016, Governor McAuliffe appointed him to the Council on Virginia's Future.
He holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of California at Berkeley, where he was a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow; a J.D. from the University of Virginia; and a B.A., magna cum laude, from Princeton University. He was raised in Arlington, Virginia, where he attended public schools. He is married to Dr. Emily Blout, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Media Studies at the University of Virginia. They live with their twin boys in Charlottesville.
Please contact Mike at mike [at] mikesigner [dot] com with questions or suggestions. Thank you!