Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer apologized to his colleagues and the City of Charlottesville for his actions during the “deeply troubling and traumatizing recent weeks” following a closed City Council meeting that lasted over three hours.
The meeting was called after a memo detailing concerns over preparation for the Aug. 12 “Unite the Right” rally and requesting a meeting with City Manager Maurice Jones to The Daily Progress and Richmond Times-Dispatch.
All five City Council members stood in the front of their chambers and addressed a small crowd of people, which was compiled mostly by media and a few civilians.
“I have taken several actions as mayor and made several communications that have been inconsistent with the collaboration required by our system of governance and that overstepped the bounds of my role as mayor,” Signer said. “These actions included an ill-advised Facebook post which impugned the reputations of our City Manager Maurice Jones and our Chief of Police Al Thomas for which I sincerely apologize.”
Signer said that he is committed to putting the needs of the city and community first and will be following four protocols for the rest of the year.
With the exception of regular city manager check-ins, Signer promised to meet with Senior Staff only when another councilor is present, to be more mindful of the time of the council clerk and the assistant clerk and to work with colleagues to ensure the council meetings going forward reflect shared leadership.
Signer also said he would not make any public pronouncements or announcements without ensuring the consent of his colleagues and the city manager. Whenever making these announcements, he said he will have another council member present.
City Councilor Kathy Galvin then stepped forward to read a prepared statement from City Council, which accepted Signer’s apology.
“Charlottesville City Council accepts the mayor’s apology and does not request his resignation but affirms support,” Galvin said. “The Charlottesville City Council reiterates shared responsibility for good governance and conveys our commitment…To work effectively together for the best interest of the city and its people.”
Kristin Szakos, a City Councilor, said the City Council will launch a to increase transparency on information the Council knows on topics that affect Charlottesville.
“We all faced a horrible tragedy in Charlottesville, the city we all love,” Szakos said. “We faced this challenge as a city, as leaders within it and as individuals. We still face challenges and acknowledge that people in our community continue to hurt.”
Katrina Turner, a Charlottesville resident who had come to City Hall to hear the Council’s statement, said she thinks Signer should have resigned instead of offering apologies.
“Everyone still has their jobs on City Council when they’re the ones at fault,” Turner said. “They're the ones who let [alt-right protesters] in this city.”
According to Turner, the counter-protest groups — namely Black Lives Matter, Showing Up for Racial Justice and Antifa — have not received the credit they deserve for demonstrating against the “alt-right” at the Aug. 12 “Unite the Right” rally.
“If it wasn’t for us that day, there would have been so many more deaths and so many more injuries because they chose not to protect us on that day,” Turner said. “City Council is just getting all kind of credit and everything — where’s the credit for the people who stood up and fought against this hate?”