CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- For the first time in 20 years, West Virginia has a new agriculture commissioner and attorney general.
On Monday, Patrick Morrisey was sworn in as attorney general, replacing Darrell McGraw, who held the post since 1992.
And former state Sen. Walt Helmick, D-Pocahontas, replaced Gus Douglas as agriculture commissioner. Douglas served from 1964 to 1988, and from 1992 to this year.
"It's a changing of the guard," Helmick said. "It's a time to reflect on my years in the senate, but also a time to look forward. This is a significant job, and it's going to be an exciting challenge."
Helmick spent 24 years in the state senate before deciding to run for agriculture commissioner. Douglas announced plans to retire last year.
Helmick's primary campaign was heated, as Democratic candidates alleged that Helmick didn't qualify for the top agriculture post. State law says the agriculture commissioner must be a farmer. Helmick heads a water bottling company in Pocahontas County.
After Monday's inauguration, Helmick held a reception for staff members and others who work closely with the state Department of Agriculture.
"Our office touches every home in West Virginia -- whether it's food quality, soil issues or the extension services at West Virginia State and West Virginia University," Helmick said. "This job is going to take a lot of time and effort."
Morrisey already has created a buzz at the attorney general's office, after announcing staff changes and a new public integrity unit last week. Morrisey hired a solicitor general, with plans to file lawsuits against the federal government, challenging regulations that negatively affect West Virginia.
"I look forward to rolling up my sleeves and doing great legal work for West Virginians," said Morrisey, West Virginia's first Republican attorney general since 1933. "I'm eager to get to work."
Within days, Morrisey is expected to appoint an acting chief for the office's consumer protection division.
"We're to build on the division's successes and improve on weaknesses," Morrisey said Monday. "We're going to be very thoughtful about this."
The state Supreme Court also gained a new face Monday, as Allen Loughry was sworn into a 12-year term on the court. He replaces Thomas McHugh, who did not run for the seat.