Virgil Bernero

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Virg Bernero
51st Mayor of Lansing
In office
January 1, 2006 – January 1, 2018
Preceded by Antonio Benavides
Succeeded by Andy Schor
Member of the Michigan Senate
from the 23rd district
In office
January 1, 2003 – January 1, 2006
Preceded by Joanne Emmons
Succeeded by Gretchen Whitmer
Member of the Michigan House of Representatives
from the 68th district
In office
January 1, 2001 – December 31, 2002
Preceded by Lingg Brewer
Succeeded by Michael Murphy
Personal details
Born (1964-03-31) March 31, 1964 (age 54)
Pontiac, Michigan, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Teri Bernero
Children Kelly
Alma mater Adrian College

Virgil Paul "Virg" Bernero (born March 31, 1964) is an American politician and former mayor of Lansing, Michigan, elected on November 8, 2005 and re-elected on November 3, 2009. He is a member of the Democratic Party. Prior to serving as mayor, Bernero served as a legislative aide, an Ingham County Commissioner and as a member of the Michigan House of Representatives and the Michigan Senate. He was the Democratic nominee for Governor of Michigan in 2010, losing in the November 2 general election to Republican Rick Snyder.[1]

Early life, education[edit]

Virgil Paul Bernero was born March 31, 1964 in Pontiac, Michigan[2] in the Metro Detroit area. He was the youngest of five children (three sons and two daughters) born to Giulio, an Italian immigrant who arrived in the US in 1948, and Virginia,[2] a first generation Italian-American.

Bernero has said that the diagnosis of schizophrenia in one of his brothers[2] and the death of another brother from AIDS in 1990 (on the same day he was elected to the Ingham County Commission) have helped to shape his life and politics.[3]

While a student at Waterford Mott High School, Bernero was elected class president three times.[2] After graduating from there in 1982, he enrolled at Adrian College (and was also class president there three times), graduating in 1986 with a B.A. in political science.[2]


Bernero served as a legislative aide and an Ingham County, Michigan Commissioner.

Michigan State Representative[edit]

Bernero ran for and won a seat in the Michigan House of Representatives in 2000, serving one term before being elected to the Michigan State Senate in 2002.

Michigan State Senator[edit]

Bernero was elected to the Michigan Senate on November 5, 2002, and served there until his election as Mayor three years later.

While he was a state senator, Bernero appeared in the documentary Fired! (2006) by Annabelle Gurwitch.[4] The film chronicles the experiences of individuals who have been fired from their jobs. In it, Bernero was interviewed about his efforts to pass Michigan Senate Bill 381 of 2005 ("Employee Privacy Protection Act"),[4] which would make it illegal for Michigan employers to fire workers for engaging in otherwise legal conduct during their off-work hours.[5]

Mayor of Lansing[edit]

Bernero was elected Mayor of Lansing on November 8, 2005, after defeating incumbent Mayor Tony Benavides.[6]

Bernero was re-elected as mayor of Lansing in November 2009, winning against opponent Carol Wood.[7]

Bernero was elected for his third term as mayor of Lansing in November 2013, winning against opponent Harold Leeman.[8]

During Bernero's tenure, Lansing received more than $2 billion in new private investments that created or retained more than 12,500 jobs. During potential revenue losses and rising costs, Bernero helped to eliminate more than $80 million in city budget deficits.[9][10]

His tenure as mayor was not without some criticism, as several political adversaries circulated a petition to have him recalled as mayor.[11] The petition ultimately failed to collect enough signatures to be placed on the ballot.

Virg announced he would not run for reelection in 2017 to be with his aging dad.[12]

Campaign for Michigan Governor[edit]

Bernero officially announced his intention to run for Governor of Michigan on February 8, 2010.[13] On August 3, 2010, Bernero defeated primary challenger Andy Dillon by 90,326 votes or nearly 20 percentage points.[14] In the general election. Bernero lost to Republican Candidate Snyder, garnering 39.9% of the vote to Snyder's 58.11%.[15]

Honors and awards[edit]

In 2004, Bernero (as a state senator), Rep. Michael Murphy, and Rep. Gretchen Whitmer were jointly awarded the Ray of Light PRISM Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community.[16]

He was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from his alma mater Adrian College in 2008.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

Bernero is married to Teri (née Johnston); they met when both were attending Adrian College.[2] They have two daughters, Kelly and Virginia (named for his mother).[2]


  1. ^ 2010 Michigan Governor Election Results at
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Gautz, Chris (July 25, 2010). "Profile: Lansing Mayor and gubernatorial candidate Virg Bernero has intense focus". Jackson Citizen Patriot. Retrieved October 5, 2016. 
  3. ^ Sturm, Daniel; Schwartz, Berl (March 7, 2003). "The Primary Prelude: Benavides, Bernero Test Voter Support". City Pulse. Lansing. Archived from the original on May 25, 2005. Retrieved October 5, 2016. 
  4. ^ a b Gagné, Nicole V. (January 31, 2007). "Fired!". Retrieved October 5, 2016. 
  5. ^ "Senate Bill 381 of 2005". Legislature of State of Michigan. Retrieved October 5, 2016. 
  6. ^ "Official Election Results, November 8, 2005". Office of the County Clerk, Ingham County. November 15, 2005. Retrieved October 5, 2016. 
  7. ^ "Ingham County: Final Unofficial Results" (PDF). City of Lansing, Michigan. November 9, 2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 27, 2010. Retrieved October 5, 2016. 
  8. ^ "Ingham County: November 5, 2013". Office of the County Clerk, Ingham County. February 24, 2014. Retrieved October 5, 2016. 
  9. ^ "Economic Development". Office of the Mayor, City of Lansing, Michigan. Retrieved October 5, 2016. 
  10. ^ "About the Mayor". Office of the Mayor, City of Lansing, Michigan. Retrieved October 5, 2016. 
  11. ^ "Group Circulates Petitions to Recall Lansing Mayor Virgil Bernero".; The New Citizens Press. September 14, 2006. Retrieved October 5, 2016. 
  12. ^ "Virg Bernero won't seek re-election". 
  13. ^ "Virg Bernero officially kicks off Democratic bid for governor". Associated Press. February 8, 2010. Retrieved 2010-02-08. 
  14. ^ "Bernero vs. Snyder". Detroit Free Press; August 4, 2010. Retrieved August 4, 2010. 
  15. ^ "2010 Official Michigan General Election Results-Governor". Michigan Department of State. March 2, 2011. Archived from the original on January 21, 2013. Retrieved January 3, 2013. 
  16. ^ "LAHR's Prism Awards honor local efforts". City Pulse. September 29, 2004. Retrieved October 5, 2016. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Virgil Bernero at Wikimedia Commons

Michigan Senate
Preceded by
Joanne Emmons
Member of the Michigan Senate
from the 23rd district

Succeeded by
Gretchen Whitmer
Political offices
Preceded by
Antonio Benavides
Mayor of Lansing
Succeeded by
Andy Schor
Party political offices
Preceded by
Jennifer Granholm
Democratic nominee for Governor of Michigan
Succeeded by
Mark Schauer