Three new legislators took their oaths of office in ceremonies in the Senate and the House on Monday.
Cheikh Taylor, D-Starkville, and Kevin Ford, R-Vicksburg, joined the Mississippi House of Representatives in Districts 38 and 54, respectively. Neil Whaley, R-Potts Camp, joined the Senate, representing District 10.
Taylor replaces fellow Democrat, Tyrone Ellis, who retired after the 2017 legislative session. Ford will finish the term of Alex Monsour, who resigned after being elected Vicksburg alderman.
Whaley’s election in November flipped the seat of Democrat Bill Stone, who stepped down earlier this year to become manager of a local municipal utility.
“Proud to have Neil Whaley join the Senate representing District 10!,” Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves tweeted after Whaley’s swearing in Monday morning.
Speaker of the House Philip Gunn also tweeted congratulations to both Taylor and Ford.
“I’ve always been passionate about serving my community, so I’m excited to now be able to do that on a state level,” said Taylor, in a press release. “I look forward to working, on behalf of my district, with other members of the Mississippi Legislature.”
Taylor currently serves as executive director of the Brickfire Project, a nonprofit child-centered organization that includes a daycare and after-school programs. He has also served on various groups’ boards, including Habitat for Humanity, Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors’ Advisory Council, Starkville Area Arts Council and Oktibbeha County Food Policy Council.
“I am honored that the people of District 54 have entrusted this position to me,” said Ford in that same press release. “I am excited about the opportunity to work with other state leaders to improve our state.”
Ford works at Ford Insurance Agency in Vicksburg, a business he established with his wife, Julie. The couple also owns a specialty coffee shop and bakery in town.
Whaley, a 29-year-old cattleman, is a small business owner from Potts Camp.