Gov. Northam delivers his final State of the Commonwealth address

Published: Jan. 12, 2022 at 5:58 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 12, 2022 at 6:59 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Governor Ralph Northam delivered his final State of the Commonwealth address Wednesday night, recapping his last four years in the executive mansion.

The address comes as Republican Glenn Youngkin prepares to move into power on Saturday.

The theme of tonight’s speech was “Taking care of one another: Honoring historic progress and a challenge to continue this work.”

Northam touted his successes during the pandemic under his administration more than 90 percent of the commonwealth has had at least one shot of a vaccine, and he says he’s proud of how the state has handled the pandemic this far.

“We have seen fewer cases and fewer deaths than many of our neighbors,” Northam said. We’re the 9th state in the nation for having our residents fully vaccinated and for vaccination rates for teenagers.”

Northam says climate change needs to remain a priority in the state and that the state should be investing in new technologies to power its future.

“Virginia is at the vanguard of a new offshore wind energy industry of the United state; we must embrace clean energy because the cost of not doing so will be devastating,” Northam said.

Northam says he’s also proud of how he’s handled education, particularly as it relates to addressing the history of African-Americans in the curriculum. He believes teaching African American history is essential for Virginians to move forward from its past.

“We are a Commonwealth of Contradictions, the place where the first enslaved African American people landed and the place where representative government was born,” Northam said. “For too long we have been comfortable telling a story about Virginia’s history that left out a lot of people and a lot of uncomfortable facts, but we cannot choose history based on how it makes us feel.”

Another hallmark of Northam’s term was his push for criminal justice reform. Under his administration, Virginia became the first southern state to abolish the death penalty. Northam has also been notable for restoring the civil right of more than 126,000 people and issues more than 1,100 pardons more than all past governors combined.

While Northam believes Virginians have a lot to celebrate thanks to his administration, those on the other side of the aisle are less than impressed with Northam’s achievements.

Just moments after Governor Northam wrapped up his address, State Republican lawmakers gave their take on what comes next. In part, they said quote ‘The decisive results of November’s elections, with Glenn Youngkin, Winsome Sears, and Jason Miyares prevailing, signaled that Virginians wanted to move in a different direction. Governor Youngkin’s ‘Day One’ agenda is remarkable because it embraces something all too rare in government: common sense.’

Speaker Designee Todd Gilbert also took shots at the outgoing Governor, taking to Twitter slamming Northam’s speech calling it a condescending lecture from assumed moral high ground.

During Northams’ final two years in office, Democrats enjoyed majorities in both house and the senate. With the start of the new session, Republicans have retaken control of the House of Delegates while Democrats maintain their control in the Senate.

Northam says his administration has set the Commonwealth up to thrive, but now his vision for its future will be in the hands of incoming Governor Glen Youngkin.

“I wish him the best and I am confident he will lead this commonwealth well because when he succeeds we all succeed,” Northam said.

Rewatch Northam’s full speech here:

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