By Justin Cox
Killeen Daily Herald
It's been a long road for Ralph Sheffield, but Thursday, the Temple Republican took his place as the representative for House District 55.
More than 200 gathered in the House of Representatives Chamber at the Capitol in Austin to watch Sheffield's swearing-in ceremony.
Gov. Rick Perry administered the oath of office to the Temple businessman, giving him a hug afterward.
Master of ceremonies George White said he could not recall a bigger turnout for such an event, as every seat was taken inside the chamber.
Bell County Sheriff Dan Smith introduced Sheffield to a roaring crowd. The spectators stood and congratulated the winner of one of the fiercest campaign battles Central Texas had ever seen.
Sheffield thanked Smith, who stood alongside Sheffield during the tumultuous GOP primary battle in late March and April.
Sheffield also thanked his wife, Debbie, who sat on the back row with Perry, Bell County Republican Party Chair Nancy Boston, House District 54 Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock and state Sen. Troy Fraser.
"I could not have managed this without you," Sheffield said. "Debbie, you're the best."
Sheffield spoke briefly about his plan for the upcoming legislative session.
"As a small business owner, I've learned to listen to my customers' needs," he said. "I pledge to you that I will work hard and stick to a conservative philosophy."
Sheffield also said his ears will be open, as will his cell phone; his phone number was on nearly all of the campaign materials sent to District 55 voters.
"I need your calls, your support, your guidance," Sheffield said. "My cell phone number will not change."
Contact Justin Cox at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7568.