San Carlos Mayor Omar Ahmad died suddenly this morning after suffering a heart attack, according to Councilmember Randy Royce.
Paramedics responded to a 911 call from Ahmad and took him to Sequoia Hospital, but Ahmad passed away before they arrived.
"He was one of my best friends in addition to being a fellow councilmember," Redwood City Vice Mayor Alicia Aguirre said. "I'm just in shock."
Ahmad was appointed mayor in January. In addition to being a councilmember since 2007 he also served on the City’s Economic Development Advisory Commission, the Airport Roundtable, Caltrain Board of Directors, San Mateo Council of Cities, Economic Development Advisory Commission, the Harbor Industrial Association, and many other groups.
"He had a passion for his city," Aguirre said. "Whenever I joked that Redwood City was 'climate best by government test,' he would say, 'well, we're the city of good living!' He always had the best sense of humor."
His work extended outside of San Carlos as well. He was an advocate of working with other cities in order to pursue what was best for San Carlos and for the Peninsula.
"He worked tirelessly on regional issues and worked with [Redwood City] on a number of areas," Aguirre added. "He was always looking for ways to work together."
Recently, the San Carlos city council decided to pursue with Redwood City.
Ahmad’s life outside of the political realm was as a technical entrepreneur, as he was involved in many start-up companies through the years.
He was a well known entrepreneur in Silicon Valley, having been involved in the start up of a number of companies including the Discovery Channel, @Home, Trusted ID, Grand Central Communications, Napster, Netscape and most recently as the co-founder and CEO of SynCH Energy Corporation.
"Those of us at City Hall who had the opportunity to work with and get to know him are devastated by his loss,” said City Manager Jeff Maltbie. “Omar's dedication to the citizens of San Carlos and his passion for democracy will be greatly missed. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends."
Caltrain Board President Sean Elsbernd released the following statement after Ahmad's death: "This is a kick in the stomach, a loss that cannot be fully described. He was everything anyone could want in a human being, a public servant, and a friend. He had a good sense of humor. He was absolutely dedicated to public transit and his dedication was matched by his commitment. He also had something you don’t see often – an ability and a willingness, an eagerness, really, to look ahead, to see what the future could hold and to plan and prepare for that future. He loved working on the problems of today, but he loved even more thinking about the possibilities tomorrow could bring. I will miss him dearly."
SamTrans Board President Karyl Matsumoto said, “We are all devastated by Omar's passing. He was kind and funny, warm and genuine and he believed in the work he was doing on behalf of the public. Omar was not afraid to ask the tough questions or make difficult decisions. He was committed to the people who ride our buses and use our Paratransit service. He has left a lasting impact on all of us personally, and on the people of San Mateo County. He loved his work, he was passionate and he had a terrific sense of humor. We treasure the all-too-short time we had with him. He will be sorely missed - farewell Omar.”
SamTrans General Manager/CEO and Caltrain Executive Director Michael J. Scanlon said, “He made things better – by his courage, by his vision, by his creativity, and, perhaps most especially, by his sense of humor and fun. He was deeply supportive of the men and women who work in the public arena and respectful of the work they do and the working people he served have lost a true champion. Now and for decades to come, those of us who were fortunate to know him, who worked with him, who joined him in his battles, who were touched by his humanity, will say with pride that Omar Ahmad was our friend and this statement will be a credit to us all.”