RICHMOND, Va. - Since 2018, Gov. Ralph Northam (D-Virginia) has led Virginia through some challenging times, like a pandemic.
"There are a lot of challenges in the governor's job. I kind of describe it as when you get up in the morning there's always a brush fire that breaks out somewhere. Some of them are larger than others," he said.
News 3 spoke with Northam from his office on Tuesday afternoon. He reflected on his time in office, stretching back to 2008 when he became a state senator.
Northam said he's proud to be the governor who helped expand medicaid coverage, moved forward with major transportation projects like the expansion of the HRBT, and helped bring businesses to the Commonwealth like Amazon.
If he had more time, Northam would've liked to continue to expand early childhood education opportunities to more children.
"We've done a lot of good things. I don't really have any regrets. Sometimes you just wish you had a few more hours in the day, but I can't control that," he said.
Notably during his term, he found himself in the center of a national controversy, when his Medical School year book surfaced with his a racist picture on his page.
Northam at first apologized, but then said he was not in the picture. Despite calls in 2019 for him to resign, he is completing his term.
"Was there any point when that was going on where you thought your governorship is over?" News 3 asked Northam. "No, that was a difficult time for Virginia. I'm pleased Virginians stuck with me," he answered.
Northam says the incident transformed his governorship and led him to see more inequalities in society than he had in the past.
He pushed Virginia to take down Confederate Monuments, signed the ban on the death penalty into law, and created a cabinet position for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
"Do you think that changed the course of your governorship and some of the things you're talking about just might not have happened?" News 3 asked.
"Absolutely," Northam responded. "I think the results speak for themselves, but we're a better Commonwealth.
Northam, himself a doctor, led Virginia during the pandemic, hosting dozens of press conferences from Richmond since March 2020. He even got COVID himself in September 2020 and now he's a COVID long-hauler.
"I still can't smell. Taste - a little bit here or there, but for the most part, I can't. That's something that I'll deal with," the 62-year old said.
As for looking forward, Northam plans to move back to Norfolk, where he lived before becoming governor. He plans to resume work as a pediatrician.
"Are you interested in running for office again in the future?" News 3 asked.
"You can't never say never, but I don't think you'll see my name on the ballot any time soon," he answered.
Virginia's next governor, Glenn Youngkin, will take office on January 15.