Candidates for governor must be United States citizens who have resided in Virginia and been a registered voter for five years prior to the election in which they are running. The candidates must be at least 30 years of age.
Unlike other state governors, Virginia governors are not allowed to serve consecutive terms. They have been barred from immediate re-election since the adoption of Virginia's second constitution, in 1830. However, a former governor is permitted to run for a second term in a future election. Only two governors since 1830, William Smith and Mills Godwin, were elected to additional terms. Smith's second term came after Virginia seceded from the Union, while Godwin became the first ever governor in American history to be elected by both major parties when the former Democrat was elected in 1973 as a Republican.
The governor is the head of government in Virginia. At the beginning of every regular session, they must report the state of the Commonwealth to the Virginia General Assembly (both the House of Delegates and the Senate). They must convene the legislature when two-thirds of each house calls for a special session. The governor must ensure that the laws of the Commonwealth are faithfully executed by either signing, or allowing it to come into law, or vetoing, not allowing it to become law. They are responsible for the safety of the state, as they serve as commander-in-chief of the Virginia Militia.
The position of Governor of Virginia dates back to the first permanent English settlement in America, Jamestown. The Virginia Company of London set up a government run by a council. The President of the Council basically served as governor. The council was based in London and controlled the colony from afar. Nominally, Thomas Smith was the first President of the Council, but he never left England. Edward Maria Wingfield was the first President of the Council in residence, making him the first to exercise the actual authority of governing Virginia. The Virginia Company abandoned governance by council May 23, 1609, and replacing it with a governor, John Smith.
In 1624, the English Monarchy took control from the Virginia Company and made Virginia a crown colony. Governors continued to be appointed by the monarch for many years. Most often, the appointed governor would reside in England while a deputy or lieutenant governor actually exercised authority. Royal rule was interrupted during the English Civil War, after which governors were appointed by the Commonwealth of England until the English Restoration.