On May 10, 2011, Omar Ahmad died of a sudden heart attack inside Sequoia hospital after calling 911 around 7 a.m. on the quiet Tuesday morning.
A year later, and the effects of his death are still being felt, in the politics of the city, and in the hearts of those who knew him.
San Carlos Patch asked a few close friends and colleagues to share their thoughts about Omar, remembering him one year after his death.
We ask you to share your thoughts and memories of Omar in the comments!
Andy Klein, former Mayor and City Councilman
"It still is hard to come to grips with the fact that Omar is gone. He truly was a great man, whose friendship and intellect has been greatly missed. A year later, he is still missed as much as he was on the first day he was gone."
Brad Lewis, former Mayor and City Councilman:
"What I miss so much about Omar is the way he approached local politics and the community. He did it with compassion, intelligence, camaraderie, an idealistic and respectful love of tradition, through engaged and genuine discourse, and it was all done with a distinctive and unique flair."
Mark Olbert, current City Councilman:
"I knew Omar, and supported him, although I didn't have the opportunity to work with him closely. I always appreciated and admired the almost joyous abandon with which he approached life. He dreamed big, and worked hard to realize those dreams, in both his private and public lives. Our community was richer for him having been part of it, and from his willingness to dedicate himself to it."
Randy Royce, former Mayor and City Councilman:
"There was always so much energy when I talked to Omar; he would answer with a "Hey boss!" We are all much better people when we open our minds to difference cultures and religions; we need more of this in San Carlos. He always listened first and challenged you with a few questions. He was a very intelligent person, a genius, but never made you feel that you were under him. When I called his sister in LA to notified her of his death, we had a full room in City Hall that were crying with her; we all cried for 10 minutes. I still love that guy."
Brian Moura, Assistant City Manager:
"I first worked with Omar when he was appointed by the City Council as a Commissioner on the City's Economic Development Advisory Commission (EDAC). EDAC has commissioners who live in San Carlos and are San Carlos business professionals. Omar was both a citizen and a business professional.
Omar told the Council during his EDAC interview he was a "serial entrepreneur" who had helped start and operate a series of well known companies including Netscape, Discovery Channel, Napster, @Work and several more. He felt he could bring insight and advice on starting and operating businesses to the City. The Council Members decided at the end of the interviews, Omar needed to be on EDAC, advising the City and Council Members on Economic Development. It was a wise move and the beginning of his involvement with the City.
When he began his quest for a seat on the City Council, Omar talked to many in the community about running for office. When told he would have to walk the neighborhoods, go door to door asking for votes because that's how you get elected to the San Carlos City Council - Omar replied, "That's going to be fun. I'm going to start right away." And he did - Omar began walking before any of the other candidates in that election and before the filing period even opened.
On the Council, Omar brought energy, enthusiasm, diplomacy and a sense of humor. During his first budget meeting, he expressed a sense of urgency in addressing the City's chronic General Fund deficit. Later he would be a strong champion for exploring new ways of delivering City services to bring the budget back in balance without the need for a tax increase. Omar was appointed by his fellow Mayors in San Mateo County to both the CalTrain and JPB Board of Directors where he worked on CalTrain Electrification and ways to address CalTrain service and budget issues. He also was an advocate for both the City of San Carlos and fellow Mayors and Council Members to use Social Media to engage the public. His requests led to San Carlos being one of the first cities in California to use Twitter and Facebook to inform the public.
Omar offered a free training seminar on a Saturday for his fellow elected officials and many attended to learn direct from Omar how to use this new medium. Omar was invited by the prestigious "TED" Conference to deliver a brief talk on how to influence elected officials like himself. The video of that talk (http://www.ted.com/talks/omar_ahmad_political_change_with_pen_and_paper.html) is still a popular download on the Internet to this day.
Omar was highly thought of, admired and well known throughout Silicon Valley. In fact, if you said you knew "Omar", everyone - residents, businesses, Venture Capitalists, Tech Company Executives, etc - knew who you were talking about. Even if you didn't say his last name. And they had their own fond stories about him and their discussions and times with him. Omar gave a lot to his friends, his community and everyone who knew him. He is missed - but he will never be forgotten."
Share your thoughts about Omar with us in the comments below...