Home Ralph Northam Audio: Gov. Ralph Northam’s Chief of Staff, Clark Mercer, Reviews the Many...

Audio: Gov. Ralph Northam’s Chief of Staff, Clark Mercer, Reviews the Many Accomplishments of the Past Four Years, Looks Ahead to What Might Be Coming Next

Mercer talks about the impact of the "Blackface scandal," his frustration that comprehensive tax reform and campaign finance reform didn't get done, etc.

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As Gov. Ralph Northam’s four years in office come to an end in a few more weeks, it’s a great time to hear Northam’s Chief of Staff, Clark Mercer, review the many accomplishments of the Northam administration and look ahead to the future. See below for audio of Mercer’s interview with “Transition Virginia.” A few highlights include:

  • When he came into office as governor he had a list of kind of stretch goals, five to ten of them, which we’ve accomplished all of them. Medicaid expansion – six, seven hundred thousand more Virginians who have gotten health care. We wanted to be a leader in clean energy; we’re number four in the country now with deploying solar, the Clean Economy Act going carbon free by 2050. We just announced Siemens Gamesa, one of the largest manufacturers of offshore wind turbines, is setting up shop in Hampton Roads, the first time they’ve announced a manufacturing facility in the United States. [We] raised the minimum wage. We’ve eliminated the death penalty, the first state in the South to do so…Governor Northam has pardoned more individuals than the last nine governors here in Virginia combined…restored the civil rights to over 110,000 individuals. Virginia was returned to being named the best state for business by CNBC – not once, not twice, but three times. No state has ever been a repeat winner, and Virginia’s been named it three years in a row. We’ve had over $80 billion in capital investment from various companies into the Commonwealth; the previous record for a four-year term was $16 billion. We’ve had over a hundred thousand jobs created…We had the first call last week to 9-1-1 that was diverted from the police to a mental health professional with the Marcus Alert… a whole host of and Brianna’s Law, no-knock warrants, the first state to put that on the books. We’ve had a host obviously of legislative wins that we’ve set out to accomplish. And everything on the governor’s list, we were able to bring home… the Virginia Tech innovation campus…Amazon, they had a…countrywide search and hundreds of applicants and one of the things I’m super proud of in that application is 70% of the incentives are investing in Virginia – investing in more computer science degrees, investing in the Metro system. We’ve obviously, in transportation, expanded rail all over the Commonwealth, both the CSX and Norfolk Southern; we had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to purchase right-of-way for their rail lines; we never before were able to do that and purchase that in a multi-billion dollar agreement, which is going to allow Long Bridge to be rebuilt and and really free up both freight and passenger rail up and down the east coast. Wo we’ve done a lot…”
  • “I’ve talked with my counterpart for Governor-elect Youngkin, we’ve met several times, we’ve talked.  And you know they’re trying to set up an efficient, well-run government. And certainly some of the policies…that folks run on during campaigns, I think folks are aware of kind of a change in direction but there’s a lot of commonality.
  • “From a staff perspective, you know, [the “Blackface scandal”] was a difficult time not only for us for the governor but for Virginians, you know, who put their trust and faith in the governor. And we had a some pretty honest and raw conversations that if we were going to move forward together as a team we needed to be honest, the governor and the team needed to be vulnerable, needed to be willing to listen to people – listen and then learn. And if that was a commitment that we were willing to make from the governor on down, we would stay together. And if it wasn’t, I don’t think we would have been able to keep our team together. We didn’t have a single individual leave the administration during that time, despite the difficulties. And I think the governor showed a tremendous amount of vulnerability and willing to listen and
    learn…I think you’ll pick up on a lot of things that, would we have gotten them all done, I’m not sure we would have, number one. But number two, you know I think the governor probably re-prioritized a lot of these items [on racial equity] and decided to to tackle them quicker and elevate them on the list of things that we were going after.”
  • Comprehensive tax reform is something I think we would have liked to have gotten into. I don’t think it wasn’t something that was derailed per se by any one event, but there’s a nervousness from our legislature to really get into comprehensive tax reform…Number two, I think campaign finance reform it’s one that the governor’s talked about; we introduced bills on it those bills got killed in committee. You know, there’s a lot of focus on our one regulated monopoly here in the Commonwealth, you know our energy company, but I think there should be a bigger conversation about businesses and how much they’re able to donate or if they’re able to donate and I do think…there should be limits, yeah.”

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