ROANOKE, Va. – Gov. Ralph Northam delivered his final State of the Commonwealth Address Wednesday.
He reflected on the Commonwealth’s major accomplishments over the past four years.
Northam grew up in rural Virginia and says he worked to prioritize rural regions as governor. He acknowledged his work on economic development in Southwest Virginia.
“The biggest new jobs announcement in Southwest Virginia in a decade, 2,500 new jobs making nitrile gloves in Wythe County,” said Northam.
Northam took office in 2018 before COVID-19 was around. In 2020 when the pandemic began, Northam had a kind of experience no other governor had, past practice as a medical doctor.
“As the nation’s only governor who is also a doctor, I am proud of how Virginia has handled this pandemic. We have followed the science to keep Virginians as safe and healthy as possible,” he said.
Northam also pushed for a minimum wage increase in the Commonwealth. The first in over a decade.
“I’ve listened to Virginians who told me they just couldn’t support themselves on $7.25 an hour,” he said. “That’s why we’re raising the minimum wage—an increase to $11 an hour just kicked in, and we’ll get to $15 by 2026.”
Monday, just days before leaving office, Northam issued a state of emergency to expand hospital capacity, as COVID-19 cases surge. Wednesday during his address, he shared his final thoughts on how the pandemic should continue to be fought.
“As I leave office, I hope that our Commonwealth will continue doing what we know works: follow the science. Get vaccinated. Wear masks. Take care of other people, not just ourselves. That is who I know Virginians to be,” said Northam.
Northam also acknowledged the legalization of marijuana, voting rights reform and ending the death penalty.
Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin will take office Saturday. This will be the first time in nearly a decade a republican will take office in the Commonwealth.