Three years ago, business owner Tim McCarthy was operating his ten-employee security company, raising kids, going to church and living a normal life in the Conejo Valley. Then he happened to turn on the TV and see Supreme Court nominee Bret Kavanagh being treated disgracefully.
“I wasn’t even into politics. My wife was the politician in our house, but I was sitting there watching Kavanagh go through his hearings and was shocked and appalled by how poorly he was treated by our elected officials,” McCarthy says.
The next day, McCarthy bought a red-white-and-blue Uncle Sam suit (“Everything but the beard”), fashioned nine signs with slogans like “Border security,” “Support police,” “Lower taxes,” and “School choice,” then stood on the corner of Lynn and Hillcrest and held his first rally — by himself.
“I would hold one sign up and show cars driving by that there has to be a better way,” says McCarthy, who retains the New Jersey accent he acquired in his early childhood. “I knew I had to start changing things.”
That first humble step led to civic engagement he never anticipated — and to which he is now devoting much of his life. McCarthy is running for county supervisor in District 2, which includes all of Thousand Oaks, Newbury Park, Oak Park and Somis, plus the Ventura County side of Westlake Village, Lake Sherwood, the Santa Rosa Valley and slivers of Malibu, Pt. Hueneme and Camarillo. The seat has been held for 20 years by liberal career politician Linda Parks, who is only departing because of term limits.
“I felt in my heart that I was being tasked to do something bigger than I’ve been doing,” McCarthy says. “It was like a light switch.”
Initially, he tried to push others to run instead.
He was already working six days a week. McCarthy has been in the security industry for 35 years and has owned his own company, Oaks Security, for 17 years. The company installs cameras, access controls, alarm systems and gates for residential, commercial and industrial properties.
But when he came home from his “Uncle Sam” rally, he knew he had to take a next step. Praying over the possibilities and using troubleshooting skills built as an entrepreneur, he decided to start a political action committee called Move the Needle (now run by others since McCarthy is a candidate for office). Starting small, he connected with local conservatives and patriots and began planning rallies on street corners, at parks and on the Lynn Rd. overpass.
What he witnessed amazed him.
“The silent majority began to come out of the house,” McCarthy says. “People would pull off the freeway and come crying, saying they thought they were alone, and they had hope. Friends would tell friends. One guy drove by, went home, grabbed his three boys and came and joined us. People thought they were alone. They came out and saw they were not. Then they brought other people who thought they were alone, and together we grew as a community. We had kids, grandmas, grandpas, military, nurses, doctors — every walk of life showed up.”
The rallies were perfectly peaceful and respectful, even as leftist “protesters” across America burned down cities in the summer of 2020. Move the Needle rallied Ventura County residents to support police, parental rights in public schools and election integrity. They also conducted a toy drive for kids at Christmas during COVID.
But McCarthy quickly realized that influencing county officials through overpass rallies and public pressure was not, in fact, moving the needle.
“They ignored us. They wouldn’t listen to our grievances,” he says. “That’s when I realized we could only do so much pushing from the outside. We have to get on the inside.”
While encouraging others to run for city council, school board and the board of supervisors, he decided to step up and take his own advice. Now, with support among the county’s freedom-loving and business-minded residents, he is aiming to bring needed change to a County that has been economically and culturally devastated by more than a decade of mismanagement.
A big part of the problem is what he dubs political nepotism.
“Those in the political class are all connected, and they all pull each other up with them, making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in salaries, huge benefits and taking care of their own,” McCarthy says.
One underhanded strategy politicians use to pass offices to anointed successors is to announce their retirement from office the very week that citizens must submit paperwork and signatures to run for that seat. Chosen successors are ready with paperwork and elevated by the political class to occupy that position.
A prime example is scandal-plagued former County CEO Mike Powers, who was placed on administrative leave upon being accused of sexually harassing a subordinate. Powers climbed the ladder of employment in Ventura County for more than 30 years. His wife is still a county employee, and before retiring, Mike made more than $6 million in taxpayer dollars in the last decade alone, along with massive benefits and a pension.
In McCarthy’s view, the political class has stopped representing everyday citizens and has become an interest group of its own with a $2.7 billion annual budget and 10,000 County employees entrenched and entitled. He is particularly concerned by how the board of supervisors militarized public health measures against its own citizens and economy, shutting down and suing local businesses and running the County by health diktats, as if in some banana republic without the rule of law.
“The board of supervisors made very divisive decisions that split the community in half,” McCarthy says. “It split churches in half. It was divisive for families and for workplaces. They used emergency use authorization to mandate how people live their lives. It really goes against the Constitution.”
He calls the supervisors’ bungling COVID response an “extreme mismanagement of the crisis.”
“They harassed businesses for trying to stay open, even with COVID protocols. They bullied people and fined them. They sent health people in there to scare them with threats and all kinds of stuff,” McCarthy says. As a result, “A third of our businesses in Ventura County have never come back.”
Ventura County — once the envy of Southern California — is now overpriced, lacking a strong economy and with a declining standard of living. Worse, it is led by a political class seemingly more concerned with protecting each other and helping their colleagues take the next political step, he says.
“The County has no growth and little business leadership,” McCarthy says. “Very few middle-class businesses are coming in and no manufacturing. The only segment that has grown at all is trade, transportation and maybe retail. The County is making all this money and is not growing our area.”
McCarthy plans to create a strong business alliance to attract new businesses to the area with tax breaks, incentives and friendly policies. Community colleges are in crisis as well, he says, with attendance collapsing because of campuses’ militant COVID requirements.
“I talked to a young girl after church who’s not going to college because she’s not going to get vaccinated,” he told the Guardian.
On the upside, he believes that citizens are waking up to harsh realities — and want to elect people to fix them.
“They realize that career politicians have brought us down a bad path, and we need our citizens to get back in to put us on a right path,” McCarthy says. “Both of my opponents have only been in politics. One says he’s a business owner, but he owned a consulting company that lobbied in Sacramento. The other is a 20-year politician, a strong ally of Linda Parks. Some would say she’s been groomed to fill Linda’s position.”
McCarthy says it’s time for someone who has actually owned and run a business, employing people in the private sector in Ventura County, to help restore the County to its once great way of life.