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The People Who Run Gifford, S.C.’s Tiny Government

The small, rural town of Gifford, S.C., survives with help from just 12 enthusiastic public employees -- most of whom aren't even paid.

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In tiny towns like Gifford, S.C., the municipal government consists of very few people. A dozen employees, most of whom are unpaid and work part-time, see to the needs of the town’s 289 citizens. Here, the entire city council -- Alvin Murdaugh, Lindsay Strong, Leon Blake and Horney Mitchell -- stands in front of the town hall, a former family home that was donated to the city.



Laquan Keith Mitchell, elected in 2013, is the fourth mayor of Gifford. His father is a councilman.



Municipal Judge Sheryl McKinney holds court once a month and typically hears a dozen cases, mostly traffic-related.



Clerk of the Court Patricia McTeer is often the only employee on duty at Gifford Town Hall.



Police Chief James Mitchell (no relation to the mayor) brings in a sizable portion of Gifford's revenue by writing tickets.



George Woods is always on call to take care of general maintenance.



Town Clerk Carleen Wright is also the treasurer. 


David Kidd is a photojournalist and storyteller for Governing. He can be reached at
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