When Ryan Aument arrived at his new office in the east wing of the state Capitol Tuesday morning, the phone already was ringing.
On the other end of the line was his predecessor, retired state Rep. Katie True from East Hempfield Township.
"She called to wish me the best, right when I got here at 9 o'clock," said Aument, a Republican. "She has been very conscientious and thorough during the whole transition."
Aument, a 34-year-old Landisville resident and Iraq war veteran, was sworn into office Tuesday afternoon as the newest state representative in the 41st Legislative District, a seat True held for the past eight years.
Also taking the oath of office were returning Republican Reps. John Bear of Lititz, Scott Boyd of West Lampeter Township, Tom Creighton of Rapho Township, Bryan Cutler of Peach Bottom, Gordon Denlinger of Narvon, Dave Hickernell of West Donegal Township, and Mike Sturla of Lancaster city.
Returning state senators include Mike Brubaker of Warwick Township, Mike Folmer of Lebanon and Lloyd Smucker of West Lampeter Township.
Before the noon ceremony, Aument led about a dozen family members, including his 3-month-old son, Jack, and wife, Kate, down the aisles of the House floor to his seat, where a fresh bouquet of flowers awaited him. Aument's chair is four rows from where the House speaker presides and two in from the center aisle.
"I thought I'd never live to see this happen," said Horace Graver, Aument's 75-year-old grandfather.
By coincidence, Aument - the only freshman legislator among Lancaster County's 11-member delegation - will be sitting next to Cutler, for whom Aument once served as chief of staff.
"It's a tremendous feeling to have friends, family, loved ones and supporters to share this historic occasion with," Aument said during a lull in photo-taking with members of his family. "The ceremonies of the day, we're enjoying. But I'm also mindful of the work we have before us."
State lawmakers face a daunting task in trying to close what is projected to be a $4 billion budget deficit this year, a problem that will be their top priority.
The state's dire financial situation was reflected in the austerity of the ceremonies. Aument, for example, had 45 guests to the Capitol for the swearing-in ceremony - half of whom were family - but covered the cost of food himself, not with taxpayer money.
Plenty of others among the 202 House members and 25 senators taking the oath of office did the same.
"This Legislature is very mindful of the financial situation," Aument said. "We need to lead by example."
On the House floor, Aument's grandmother, 72-year-old Ruby Graver of Peach Bottom, told stories to a news reporter about the representative as a young man. Aument was born about three months premature, and his mother made it to the hospital just in time.
"The doctor said they didn't have time to get her to Harrisburg. She just barely got to the hospital here," Ruby Graver said.
"Ryan was 3 pounds, 10 ounces when he was born."
Nearby, an aunt was snapping a picture of Aument's father with his grandson, Jack, when the representative sneaked up behind them and into the frame. It didn't bother Aument's aunt.
"Oh, I'm allowed in this one!" Aument laughed.
Aument, of Farmington Place, formerly led Lancaster County's clerk of courts office, which manages criminal records. He is a 1995 Solanco High School graduate and 1999 Citadel graduate, with a bachelor's degree in education.
He is a former Army captain and veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The 41st District spans a broad swath of western Lancaster County, including East Petersburg and Mountville boroughs, East and West Hempfield townships, the western portion of Lancaster Township and part of Manor Township.
In the November election, voters overwhelmingly backed Aument over Democrat Jerry Policoff. Aument got 66 percent of the vote to Policoff's 34 percent.
After taking the oath, Aument met with supporters who had gathered across the street from the Capitol, in the atrium of the Keystone Building, to watch the ceremony on a large projection screen.
Two of his former Army buddies from Washington, D.C., and Virginia traveled to see their friend for the first time since 2003, when they served together in Iraq.
They told stories of Aument taking command of their platoon when the acting commander was struck in the face with shrapnel. Both described him as being a tremendous leader who long ago expressed a desire to run for office and continue his public service beyond the military.
"I remember being in Iraq with Ryan," said Frank Blake, 33, of Richmond, Va. "I remember him saying his goal was to be an elected official for the commonwealth of Pennsylvania."