Governor Northam reflects on challenges and change during term in office

Ralph Northam’s expectations coming into the job certainly got turned upside down by a scandal...
Ralph Northam’s expectations coming into the job certainly got turned upside down by a scandal and a pandemic.(Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury)
Published: Dec. 22, 2021 at 10:18 AM EST|Updated: Dec. 22, 2021 at 11:32 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Virginia’s outgoing governor is looking back on the past four years at the helm.

Ralph Northam’s expectations coming into the job certainly got turned upside down by a scandal and a pandemic. He ignored calls for his resignation and says that move set the table for progressive change.

“I never would have dreamed when I was coming along that one, I’d get into politics or even become the governor one day,” said Gov. Ralph Northam, (D) Virginia.

Northam’s time in office spans 14 years, but it’s his time as governor where Northam says he brought about major change – from repealing the death penalty to legalizing recreational weed.

“We have proven that you can be progressive and also do very well economically and I’m very proud of that,” said Northam.

Northam admits a lot of that progressive change was fueled and propelled by the fallout of his own scandal. An image from Northam’s 1984 medical school yearbook surfaced. It showed a man in blackface next to someone wearing a KKK robe. Northam issued an apology; an investigation into who was pictured was inconclusive.

“I get up in the morning to try to help people and the last thing I would want to do is hurt Virginians and so I committed myself and also our cabinet to listening and we learned a lot,” said Northam.

Fast forward a year later, the COVID-19 pandemic was knocking on his door. The nation’s only doctor-governor relied on his military training and medical knowledge.

“It’s been one challenge after another. As most people know it started with not enough PPE. Governors were literally competing with each other,” said Northam.

The 73rd Governor imposed controversial restrictions to slow the spread while scrambling for supplies.

“We were ordering PPE from other countries, especially Asia, not knowing what we were going to get if we were getting it,” said Northam.

But then came COVID-19 vaccines and now the state ranks among the best for shots in arms.

On his way out, Northam warns the pandemic and its effects are far from over. He and his wife will return to Norfolk. The governor is going back to being a doctor and Pamela Northam will work for an environmental nonprofit.

“I look forward to my next chapter,” said Northam.

The Northam’s will attend the inauguration Saturday, Jan. 15. He will take Sunday off and then it’s back to work on Monday.

Copyright 2021 WWBT. All rights reserved.

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