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Chief Justice Pleicones swearing in representatives in private ceremony

Committed to serve

Chief Justice Pleicones swears in Represenatives Atwater and Smith in private ceremony.

Just before the South Carolina General Assembly broke for the holidays, reelected representatives Murrell Smith ’90, R-Sumter, and Todd Atwater ’88, R-Lexington, walked into the state’s Supreme Court courtroom where Chief Justice Costa Pleicones ’65 swore them in during a private ceremony.

Pleicones was to retire at the end of the year, and Atwater and Smith did not want to miss the opportunity to renew their commitment to serve the state with fellow Wofford graduate Pleicones presiding.

“When opportunities for unique memories come along, I think it’s important to take advantage of them,” says Atwater, whose hand was on Pleicones’ Wofford Bible during the ceremony.

Smith, a partner in the Lee, Erter, Wilson, Holler and Smith Law Firm, was first elected to the General Assembly in 2001 and currently is serving on the Ways and Means and Ethics committees. Atwater began his first term in 2011. He serves on the Labor, Commerce and Industry and Rules committees. Both find service challenging but rewarding.

“Serving as a state representative has been a dream of mine since college,” says Smith. Smith housesat as a student for Wofford professor of art history and Republican party leader Constance Antonsen during George Bush’s campaign for president in 1988. “Answering her phone and taking messages from people running Bush’s campaign fueled my desire to go into politics.” Smith also credits government professors the late Dr. Linton Dunson, who was close with the late S.C. Sen. Strom Thurmond, and Dr. Jack Seitz, who held more liberal and challenging political views. “Dr. Seitz helped me realize the importance of bridging political gaps” for the good of the state and nation, says Smith.

Atwater came to Wofford planning to become a doctor. An Interim internship with S.C. Rep. Floyd Spence as well as classes in business economics, history and religion, opened his eyes to a career in business and politics. Atwater went on to law school and since has worked for Strom Thurmond, the State Chamber of Commerce and Gov. David Beasley. He served as CEO of the South Carolina Medical Association for 13 years and is now CEO of SCMA Members Insurance Trust. When Rep. Nikki Haley became governor, Atwater saw the opportunity, ran and was elected to fill her house seat.

“Politics can be a blood sport in South Carolina, but I want to contribute with common sense and decency,” says Atwater. “Wofford continues to produce graduates who rise to the top, and I’m proud to be associated with Wofford graduates like Costa and Murrell who are willing to step up and take a stand in tough situations.”

by Jo Ann Mitchell Brasington ’89