RICHMOND, Va. -- Governor Ralph Northam has less than a month left in office. After four years on the job, he is looking back at the highs and lows of his term.
Northam said he looks back on the past four years as one of tremendous privilege as his time in office winds down.
He points to Medicaid expansion, the Amazon second headquarters and ending the death penalty among his big accomplishments. That last one and other criminal justice reforms he says stemmed in part from what happened in 2019.
In 2019, a blackface photo was revealed to be in his medical school yearbook, an image he denies was of him. Looking back, he said that was a difficult time but he chose not to resign, went on a listening tour of the state and turned what he heard into legislative priorities.
Other challenges he has faced during his tenure include the pandemic, something he feels his administration has done a good job with despite many challenges in the beginning.
He also defended the work of the Virginia Employment Commission during the pandemic, despite lots of criticism.
Northam also responded to criticism about some of his recent pardons, including the Rusty Mack case in Colonial Heights, where a woman was given a pardon seven years into a 20-year sentence. Northam said he feels for victims' families in all pardon requests and believes people should be punished. However, he added that he believes in second chances.
He adds he has issued over 700 pardons during his term and says he's still working through other requests.
"There are lots of requests out there. Again, we're taking one at a time, working around the clock, but as far as a number, I'm going to read through them and do it deliberately just like I always have and I expect some more to be pardoned but exactly how many, I don't know," Northam said.
In the end, Northam says he hopes Virginians will look back on his time in office as one where he left the Commonwealth in a better place than it was four years ago.
As far as his immediate plans for the future, Northam says after Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin's inauguration on January 15, he and his wife First Lady Pam Northam plan to return to Norfolk. He says he'll take that Sunday off and resume practicing as a pediatric neurologist that Monday.