Early in his life, Overture learned about government’s capacity to help families survive as well as empower people to thrive.
Shortly before his birth, Overture’s parents separated and he was born into poverty in Sumter, SC on September 30, 1980. During his formative years, his mother raised him and his brother with help from his grandfather, a former sharecropper with a third-grade education, and his grandmother, a former domestic in the Jim Crow South with a fourth-grade education. While living with his grandparents who were dependent on public relief, he experienced overcrowded housing as 11 people shared a 2-bedroom, 1 bath dilapidated rental home devoid of central air and heat and plagued by shabby plumbing. His mother attended the local community college at night, took a work-study job during the day, and received government assistance while struggling to carve out a better life for her sons who lagged academically, particularly Overture who suffered from a speech disorder.
In 1986, his mother remarried and relocated the family to Southeast Richland County where he received a middle-class upbringing and attended Richland One public schools. His stepfather, an army veteran and mail handler for the U.S. Postal Service, espoused virtues such as honesty, hard work, patience, perseverance, accountability, thrift, academic excellence, and faith as the means of getting ahead in life. After a few years in a structured and stable environment, Overture began to flourish academically, and he managed to gain control of his speech disorder with the help of his school’s speech therapist. Unfortunately, his stepfather died of complications from prostate cancer in 1995 and did not live to see him graduate from Lower Richland High School in 1998 and subsequently matriculate at the University of South Carolina.
After working his way through college and law school with the help of scholarships, grants, and student loans, Overture took a job with the Richland County Public Defender Office where he provided access to justice for those with limited resources as a public defender. After his stint working in indigent defense, Overture accepted a position at the City Attorney’s Office for the City of Columbia where he fought to keep communities safe as a city prosecutor, and protected taxpayer dollars as a city attorney. In 2015, he was unanimously appointed by Mayor Benjamin and City Council to a 4-year term as a city judge where he made consequential decisions without friends to reward or enemies to punish. With more than ten (10) years of experience in private practice, he has safeguarded the legal rights of citizens, while protecting families and working people against the negligence and indifference of big companies and governmental entities.
As a small business owner and founder of Stoney & Walker, LLC with law offices in Charleston and Columbia, he identifies with the challenges of starting a new business and making payroll.
Overture understands that his story was only made possible because he went from an environment of economic instability where government helped his family “survive” into an environment of economic stability and better access to resources where his parents held jobs that paid a living wage thereby paving the way for him to “thrive.” Recognizing that he is part of a communal enterprise, Overture wants to push government to think more about ways to harness the private sector to steer economic development and jobs with livable wages toward communities that are economically vulnerable and neglected. “I want to ensure that every family and household is included in the progress and prosperity of the County,” says Overture.
Overture firmly believes that government exists for the sole purpose of improving the quality of life for all its citizens. In order to accomplish this mission, we need to have transparency at every level of county government that informs taxpayers how their dollars are being spent. We further need the sort of accountability that demands change when an expenditure or initiative fails at the following: promoting “smart” growth that prevents haphazard development; improving transportation and relieving traffic congestion; supporting public education; keeping the county’s library system elite; bolstering community safety; and protecting neighborhoods.
Overture understands that the citizens of Richland County and the business community are not interested in abstract debates about big or small government, or petty squabbles between elected officials, but are simply yearning for effective government. He further understands that to govern effectively, it is imperative to restore the people’s confidence in their government, remove barriers to opportunity, and provide business with a climate of certainty that spurs economic investment.
To steer county government in the right direction, it is going to take stable leadership, someone with sound judgment and proven experience, and a healthy, synergistic relationship between government and the business community.
Overture Walker is a graduate of the USC School of Law and served as an intern for former Democratic Governor Jim Hodges. He has been a resident of Richland County for over 30 years and is active in the community, serving on the South Carolina Appleseed Justice Center Board and Columbia Housing Development Corporation Board. He is married to Sharon DuPree Walker, and they are the proud parents of a daughter who attends public school in Richland District Two.