Editor’s Note: The interview took place over the phone on 08/26/22. Tim O’Hare is the Republican nominee for Tarrant County Judge. He is a former member of the Farmers Branch City Council, the former mayor of Farmers Branch, and the former Chair of the Tarrant County Republican Party. O’Hare will face Democrat Deborah Peoples in the November 8th election. O’Hare’s website can be found at electtimohare.com.
Garrit: In 2020, Tarrant County voted for Joe Biden 49.31% to Trump’s 49.09%. It was a departure from about 50 years of Republicans winning Tarrant County at the presidential level. What do you think the political future holds for Tarrant County?
Tim: If you take a look at the down-ballot races in the same year–I think every down-ballot countywide candidate won by 4.5 points–winning by 4.5 points when the country was under siege from all of the COVID restrictions and all of the incredibly biased media, I think it shows that Tarrant County is still firmly a Republican county. With regards to President Trump, he won Tarrant County in every respect until you put in the mail-in ballots. He lost the mail-in ballots by an astronomical number–like 20,000 votes. The truth of the matter is that a lot of Republicans felt that they couldn’t bring themselves to vote for President Trump. As a result, a lot of Republicans stayed at home. Among other things, we now are dealing with probably the worst president in the history of the country.
Garrit: What do you think Republicans need to do to win elections–especially in suburban and urban areas like Tarrant County?
Tim: That’s a great question. In Tarrant County specifically, there has been this mindset of “we’re gonna win.” There’s not a lot of work that gets put in by a large number of people during the year and then there’s just a lot of assumptions that we’re going to win. The work is just not there the way you see it, a lot of times, from Democrats. They’re working all year long. There’ll be an election and then they’ll turn around and start doing voter registration the next month. Fortunately, 2020 was a real wake-up call in Tarrant County. Now there are people getting involved, giving money, and working harder than they ever have–for example, my race. I don’t know if a county judge candidate in Tarrant County has ever raised more than a couple $100,000. Just for the primary alone, we raised over a million dollars. What I saw while campaigning, both during the primary and now, is people who typically never go to Republican clubs, never give money to a candidate, and never do anything to try to help get out the vote now have their antennae up–they are working. I believe that we’re going to be in really good shape in Tarrant County come November. To specifically answer your question, what do they need to do? If every Republican gave two hours a week, every week for the rest of their lives, for our country, local school board races, city council races (whether they host a fundraiser, knock on doors, or post things on social media) there’s no doubt we would win everything all across the country. All of us need to understand what’s at stake. There is a group of Democrats that literally want to make us a socialist nation. People need to understand that and be willing to fight. That’s how you take it back. You win school board seats, city council seats, and mayoral seats–you make every election incredibly important. The good news is that I’m seeing that happen here in Tarrant County.
Garrit: Regarding this county judge race specifically, you are going up against Deborah Peoples in November. What is the race looking like? Are you confident that you will be elected in November?
Tim: I believe that we will win the race. I’m not taking it for granted. We are literally working day and night, and we’ll continue to do that until 7:01 pm on November 8th. She [Peoples] is someone who has been a previous proponent of defunding the police. She is someone who ran for mayor unsuccessfully twice and was proud to tout her endorsement by Bernie Sanders. She has publicly come out and referred to babies that are born as burdens you have to carry with you for the next 20 years. She has said that she thinks our property taxes are just fine where they are. I don’t know anyone–including Democrats in Tarrant County–who thinks property taxes are where they should be. Everyone thinks they should be lower. There’s a real contrast between my views and hers.
Garrit: If you are elected in November, how do you plan to deal with other Democrats working within the county?
Tim: I believe we have no Democrat elected to a county-wide office currently. I don’t believe in November we will have any Democrats elected countywide, and I believe there will only be one Democrat on the Commissioner’s Court. I can work with anyone, and I can get along with anyone. Working with them, talking to them, and listening to what they have to say is something we ought to do as elected officials, but, at the end of the day, my convictions are firm. My beliefs and values are firm, and I will never under any circumstances compromise my principles or values–I think far too often too many Republicans do. You won’t see that from me. We also need to play to win. Far too often we see Democrats play to win, and Republicans play to get along. We will play to win. We will be honest, we will have integrity, but we absolutely intend to govern the way we should govern. We will stand up for our country, stand up for traditional values, and stand up for capitalism. Who would have thought, even as few as five years ago, that you would have to defend capitalism? America is an exceptional nation. It has done more good for people inside its walls than any other nation in history, and it’s done more good for people outside its walls than any other nation in history. To think that that will continue if we go the way of the socialist nations is just an absurd way of looking at it. We have to preserve our way of life, our views on how to govern, and what our country should be. I’ll work to put a good government in place, I will work to put a transparent government in place, and I will work to put limited government where we don’t see government as the answer to everything and as something that can solve all problems.
Garrit: What exactly does good government look like from the Tarrant County government perspective?
Tim: Good question. I think one is that the property taxes that we take from individuals and businesses are significantly lowered–I think that’s good government. I believe in being efficient with the tax dollars and not wasting money on pet projects and on things that the government has no business engaging in–I think that’s good government. I think maintaining law and order and making sure our sheriff’s department and our DA’s office are fully funded, and that we maintain law and order…no one should have to ever move out of Tarrant County because they feel unsafe about where they live or because they can’t afford to pay the taxes to live there. Addressing those issues is good government, and then setting a tone as a leader of a county and setting a tone that “this is America and we love it.” We think America is the greatest country in the world, we are pro-business, and we want to get out of the way and let job creators create jobs. I’m a firm believer in a rising tide that lifts all boats. If more good quality high-paying jobs are being created in your county, then it’s good for everyone. All of those things are good government.
Garrit: You mentioned wasting money, pet projects, and bloated spending. Do you have any specific examples of that that you’ve seen within the Tarrant County government?
Tim: There’s money spent in Tarrant County on Equity Diversity and Inclusion programs. At the end of the day in the 21st century, if you hire someone that can’t get along with others, spending taxpayers’ money to try to teach them how to behave is not the route to go. If you hire someone that can’t get along with others, then you get rid of them, and you find people that can. There are plenty of people out there that want a good job with good benefits that can get along with people and treat people well. That’s one of the places that I’ve seen waste. I think there are spots in the county where it’s overstaffed. There seem to be too many chiefs in a lot of places. There are ways you can make changes where you don’t have to terminate anybody. You can address a lot of this just through attrition. In government, a lot of times, somebody leaves a position, and was there anybody stopping to say “hey, do we really need to fill it” or is it immediately a rush to go hire someone? I think far too often it’s just a rush to go hire someone. Another issue where I would say “this was not the route to go,” they haven’t had a final vote on it, is there’s a proposal to increase the salaries of elected officials by 7%. When you’re dealing with one of the strangest economies we’ve ever seen, where inflation is at record highs, and finding people to work seems harder than it’s ever been, the last thing you need to be doing is raising the salaries of elected officials. When you’re raising property taxes on people… it just sends the wrong message. It’s the wrong thing to do.
Garrit: You’ve been outspoken about issues related to wokeism, Cultural Marxism, and things like that. Can you cite some specific examples of these woke ideas in Tarrant County?
Tim: I think the thing that most people are familiar with that’s kind of hot at the moment is what’s going on in the schools in Tarrant County. Grapevine-Colleyville just passed some pretty good reforms. In Southlake-Carroll ISD, where I live, the school district attempted to put in place something called a “cultural competence action plan.” It was going to overhaul what is largely viewed as one of the top one, two, or three public school districts in the state of Texas. It’s kind of everywhere you turn in Tarrant County. In May, there were three school districts where control of the school boards flipped. Mansfield ISD, Keller ISD, and Grapevine-Colleyville ISD went from a–everybody puts their own labels on it–a “liberal” board or a “moderate board” to a more “traditional American view on education” board. People are more alerted to what’s going on in schools than they’ve ever been. Also, you’ve seen in the schools where porn has been in schools–not porn as somebody traditionally thinks of the word–but pornographic images that you don’t want your elementary school kids seeing. Now, all those things are school related, but the County Judge at the bully pulpit can shed light on things like that and make public policy statements. Those are some of the things that have come off the top of my head.
*The reforms adopted by the Grapevine-Colleyville School District include prohibiting the teaching of CRT, providing more oversight of library materials, and allowing teachers to choose whether or not to call students by “preferred pronouns” that do not match said student’s biological sex.
Garrit: On your website, you stated that on your first day as County Judge you would create an “election integrity officer.” Can you tell me a little more about what that position would entail?
Tim: So, it’s twofold. Number one, it essentially acts as an auditor over the elections department–which is a governmental agency. It looks at it just from an outsider’s perspective. It tells us where there are holes, where it’s susceptible to fraud, and where the security can be breached. It also tells us what we’re doing well and helps us create best practices models that we can put in place and share all across the state of Texas. That is one aspect of it: to make recommendations on how to secure the voter rolls and how to clean up the voter rolls. How do we know that we are doing it the way that we need to do it? Do we have voter procedures in place that make it easier to cheat or make us more subject to shenanigans–that’s one piece of it. The second piece of it is an investigative component where this person is essentially given law enforcement authority to find those who are committing voter fraud. Think about it from this perspective. We all know human trafficking is going on. We all know drug trafficking is going on. We have task forces–the Sheriff’s Department is part of multiple task forces in Tarrant County. We have multiple government agencies working to find these people who are being sex trafficked and the drugs that are coming into our country and being spread around–some across the border and some from inside. We have people out looking to find it; they’re not waiting for somebody to call 911 and report sex trafficking. They’re actively out seeking it. Well, at the moment, in Tarrant County, we have no one actively seeking to uncover voter fraud. Maybe we create this position, they seek to find it, and they don’t find anything. Okay, great. Then we know our elections are more secure, and then their focus is on procedures to make sure [elections] are as secure and trustworthy as possible. Maybe they find all sorts of things? I can tell you we’ve had issues in Tarrant County in the past where there was significant illegal ballot harvesting going on–I want to say that was in 2017 or 18–that was uncovered. Fortunately, the legislature addressed it–in what I guess was the second or third special session–and put some safeguards in place. But we want to make sure people have full confidence that their elections are trustworthy and legitimate.
Garrit: Another thing that you touched on earlier was property taxes and spending. Can you give me some specific numbers and actions that you’re looking at to decrease property taxes, decrease spending, and limit the size of the county government?
Tim: The Tarrant County tax rate set by the Commissioners Court is the overall county tax rate plus the hospital district tax rate. If you add those two together, which is set by the Tarrant County Commissioners Court, we’re one of the top six highest taxed counties in the state. If you take Collin County, for example, our county tax rate is .229–just the county tax rate–and Collin County’s is like 16 and a half cents. Just do some quick math and you’ll see we’re almost 40% higher than Collin County. The reason I use Collin County is that Collin County is the second largest by population Republican-controlled Commissioners Court in the state. So, Tarrant County is the number one population and Collin County is number two. Collin County this year has proposed a budget that cuts the tax rate with the massive increase in appraisals that we’ve seen again. The City of Fort Worth has proposed a two-cent tax rate cut. South Lake, where I live, I think it’s a three-cent tax rate cut. Keller, our neighbor, has another multi-cent tax cut. Meanwhile, the proposal from the Tarrant County government is to keep the tax rate exactly the same. Which, based on the increased appraisals, results in by and large an increase in taxes for 90 plus percent of the property owners in Tarrant County. So, there’s no attempt that I can see to cut the tax rate. In terms of specific spending…any organization you have whether it is the government or private organization there are always efficiencies that you can create, that you can find, and there are always ways to reduce expenditures. If it’s a private company where you’re the sole owner, you can spend whatever you want. When you’re taking other people’s money, you owe it to them to make sure every dollar is watched like a hawk and that every dollar is spent wisely. We mentioned earlier with the DEI stuff that there’s no reason to be teaching any of that at the county level. What is typical of governments is they get overstaffed in certain areas and they put too many people in upper management positions. Now specifically, am I going to sit here and tell you that we’re going to cut this specific upper management? No. There will be an extensive budget review process where we will bring in departments, staff, our commissioners, and multiple experts from outside the county to take a look at [the budget] and see where are the best places we can reduce. Like I mentioned earlier, sometimes you’ll have high turnover and it’s just kind of what you get in the American workforce today. Instead of immediately rushing out to go fill a position, determine if we really need to fill this position or if we can divvy up duties amongst other people. Sometimes you can do that and give those folks a raise. Eliminated positions still save significant money. So that’s a big way we will look to do it, and I’ve had success doing that in the past as a mayor and city councilman.
Garrit: Lastly, I wanted to talk to you about illegal immigration. So while you served Farmers Branch you brought in 287(g). President Trump also mentioned your record on immigration, the border, and crime in his endorsement of you. Firstly, how have you seen illegal immigration affect Tarrant County?
Tim: So, why don’t I make sure you understand what the 287(g) program is? The 287(g) program is something where the federal government trains local law enforcement to essentially help with border security. When this program was created, the federal government realized that they can’t do it alone. They need help from local law enforcement. So, it is a program where the federal government trains local law enforcement–whether it’s sheriff’s deputies in the case of Tarrant County, police officers in the case of cities, or DPS agents in the case of the State–on how to essentially be an ICE agent in the community. That is probably the easy way to describe it. It’s not quite that. So, it allows these local officials to screen people who are in custody for federal felonies–whether it’s because they’ve previously been convicted, or it’s because they’re awaiting trial, or have a warrant out for their arrest, or whatever the case could be–and have them processed through Immigration and Customs Enforcement. We don’t want hardened criminals sneaking across our border, coming into our country, and committing heinous acts. We don’t want people who have previously done so to come back to our country. A nation has to have laws and you can’t pick and choose which laws are enforced. So, if we have people sneaking across the border who are violent felons or alleged violent felons or felons of any kind–well–that’s not the kind of folks you want coming into your country. We want people who are going to contribute to society–not harm it. 287(g) results in 1000s of people a year being detained and then, ultimately, sent out of the country to their country of origin. A lot of people like to turn it into something that it isn’t. At the end of the day, the federal government created it knowing it needed help, and it helps the border be more secure. It also helps keep our communities safer–especially with the sex trafficking and drug trafficking that is going on. I think I just read that Fentanyl is the number one cause of death for Americans between the ages of 18 and 45. Much of the Fentanyl is coming from south of the border into our country. I just had a friend, actually, whose daughter died taking a pill that was laced with fentanyl. This happened maybe two weeks ago. It [287(g)] absolutely will keep our community safer. I will continue to support it regardless of what somebody wants to try to say it is. We’ve seen this over and over again. This is what Democrats do: they claim something is something it isn’t for political gain. We’re going to stand strong and support 287(g) because it’s the right thing to do and to keep everyone safe–regardless of what the media or far-left people will say.
Garrit: Is there more that Tarrant County could be doing to address crime or human trafficking?
Tim: The more funding you put into law enforcement, the more you can address it. I’m a strong law and order candidate, and I fully support law enforcement. I’m running against someone who previously has bashed the police at every opportunity and called for defunding the police. If residents in Tarrant County want safer streets, there’s a clear and easy choice between me and my opponent as to who’s going to do that. So yeah, you fund law enforcement, you fund the DA’s office, and you make sure people know that when they commit crimes in Tarrant County they’re going to be prosecuted and they’re going to go to jail.
Garrit: Do you have anything else you’d like to say as we conclude the interview?
Tim: I do not, but I appreciate your work and I enjoyed talking to you.