Get to Know Our New Governor, Ralph Northam

Joe Mack, Contributing Writer

On Tuesday, November 7, Ralph Northam was elected governor of Virginia, defeating his republican opponent, Ed Gillespie. The victory was decisive for the Democrats, as he received 54% of the total vote, compared to Gillespie’s 45%, and the Libertarian candidate Cliff Hyra, who earned 1%.
Northam was born in September 1959 and grew up in Nassawadox, Virginia, a tiny coastal town located within the Delmarva Peninsula. He attended college at the Virginia Military Institute, where he was elected by his fellow classmates to serve as president of the honor court. He graduated with the rank of second lieutenant in the United States Army and then attended Eastern Virginia Medical School to study pediatric medicine. As an army doctor, he treated wounded soldiers in Germany following Operation Desert Storm, and served as chief neurological resident at Johns Hopkins University.
Following his years in the Army, Northam and his wife settled back in Norfolk, where he began practicing pediatric neurology at the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters. He established his own medical practice, Children’s Specialty Group, in order to provide quality care with excellent service to his pediatric patients. Northam has also volunteered at a hospice for terminally ill children for the past 18 years. During his campaign, Northam placed emphasis on a host of issues: promising improvements within Virginia’s education system, environmental protection, criminal justice, and healthcare. He is a staunch supporter of increased gun regulation laws as he has stated that he wants to close the gun show loophole, ban assault weapons and high-volume magazines, as well as strengthen background checks. He will also work to provide citizens with easier access to mental health services.
Several of his policies could impact the Falls Church High School community. Northam seeks to raise teacher wages along with granting them input on legislative matters concerning education. He aims to place less emphasis on the SOLs in classrooms in order to enable students to prioritize learning and critical thinking for its own sake and to allow teachers to have more freedoms when planning their curricula. He plans on investing more into STEM fields for early educational purposes. He will also seek to lower the cost of college in order to avoid more students getting into excessive debt, while simultaneously expanding job and apprenticeship opportunities for students ready to work out of high school.
Despite unseasonably cool weather and steady rain on the day of the election, 370,000 more people went to the polls than in the previous gubernatorial election. Many Democrats and individuals in the media have both stated that this increased support from voters was a reaction against President Trump, and that these results will serve as a valuable precursor for the midterm elections in 2018. Only time will tell if their predictions are correct, but in the meantime, it seems as though we have, at the very least, a virtuous and well-qualified new governor in Ralph Northam.

Our new Virginia Governor, Dr. Ralph Northam.
(Photo Courtesy of Ralph