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San Carlos Mayor Omar Ahmad Dies - UPDATED 3:07 p.m.

Ahmad suffered a heart attack and passed away Tuesday morning.

San Carlos Mayor Omar Ahmad died suddenly this morning after suffering a heart attack, according to Council member Randy Royce.

Paramedics responded to a 911 call from Ahmad and took him to Sequoia Hospital, but Ahmad passed away before he arrived. He was 46.

“Losing a son has to be the worst thing in the world,” Royce said as he choked back tears. Royce had called Ahmad's parents in Florida as soon as he had heard the news. Royce and Ahmad ran together for city council in 2007. "Losing anybody is hard," said Royce as he choked up, "but losing a son has to just be the worst thing there is."

Council member Matt Grocott expressed his own condolences for Ahmad's passing.

"I am just shocked," he said. "We were in closed session until about 10:30 last night and everything seemed fine. Just shocked."

Assistant City Manager Brian Moura seconded Grocott's shock.

"I think what makes the whole thing so shocking is that we were just with him last night, got finished with closed session around 10:30, said our goodbyes and said 'See you tomorrow,'" said Moura. "Omar was his usual self last night with that big grin of his. When I heard the news this morning I just couldn't believe it."

Ahmad was appointed mayor in January. In addition to being a councilmember since 2007, he 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.

Born in Ohio, Ahmad was raised in North central Florida and attended the University of Florida where he majored in Material Science Engineering. He lived in Washington D.C. for several years before moving to California in 1998 where he worked for @Home Networks and then Netscape years later. 

Ahmad was well-known throughout the country, having made an impact in Democratic politics in Sacramento and Washington D.C.

"We're all shocked," said Vice-Mayor Andy Klein. "He was such a great man and such a great friend." Klein had known Ahmad for four years and said Ahmad was the first person to endorse him as a city councilman.

Klein will be acting-Mayor of San Carlos due to Ahmad's passing. Klein said either Council member Royce or Grocott will be appointed as Vice-Mayor and the council will continue on with just four members until their legal counsel advises them the best route to take, whether it be a special election or waiting until November when Ahmad would've been up for reelection.

"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."

The San Mateo County Transit District lowered its flags to half-staff in memory of Ahmad.

 “This is a kick in the stomach, a loss that cannot be fully described," said Caltrain Board President Sean Elsbernd. "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.”

Rebecca Elliot at the League of California Cities, Peninsula Division in San Jose, echoed the sentiment. 

"It was with shock and profound sadness that I learned of Omar's passing this morning," she said. "I liked Omar so much; he was a dedicated servant of the people and a kind and generous man.”

Early Tuesday morning, the city released their official response to the untimely death.

“It is with great shock and sadness that the City of San Carlos has learned that Mayor Omar Ahmad passed away earlier this morning,” the city said in an official statement posted on its website.   

Ahmad’s life outside of the political realm was as a technical entrepreneur, and 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."

Garrick Davis May 11, 2011 at 02:07 PM
Such a tragic loss...I had the pleasure of working with Omar as his guitar instructor over a 5-year period which ended he was elected to the San Carlos City Council. I was proud to help him hand out campaign flyers at the crack of dawn at the San Carlos train station, he on one end and me on the other because I knew his concerns for his community were genuine, his ability and conviction to make a difference was solid. Music and guitars meant so much to him. He had a fantastic guitar collection, his "guilty pleasure". He hired me to teach him to play and before public service began he performed in front of an audience at a student recital. I had never seen him so nervous. We pulled it off, together! This was a major life milestone for him as he explained to me - I am so proud to have been a part of it, for him. I could go on and on but think he will be best saluted by all of us by getting the most out of our own short lives, being good to each other and always growing toward our best selves....
Kenny Porpora May 11, 2011 at 04:10 PM
Hi Garrick. Thank you for your comment. Could you email me at kenny@patch.com. Thanks!
Geoffrey Stern May 12, 2011 at 09:23 AM
Some thoughts regarding Omar from a different perspective, as a San Carlos business owner. We met in 2007 at the very beginning of his campaign, and I immediately warmed up to Omar and saw a spiritual and most gentle side to him, not typical of a politician. We spent hours talking about kindness and softness, both globally and all the way down to our beloved San Carlos community. He took the same approach during his brief term of Mayor dealing with the difficult issues of finances, police and fire. Truly always caring for the best interests of others. Omar was the first and only person to consistently drag me out of my store (almost impossible) to discuss anything and everything. He took the time to really understand my jewelry business, always asking probing questions from a spiritual viewpoint. I was recently stumped after opening a new web based portion of my business. Nobody from the jewelry industry, from other owners to major executives involved in this industry, to even very savvy people on the internet side could resolve an extremely important question. Over a 3 hour lunch Omar completely understood the situation and in a simple manner arrived at the solution. Now what becomes of the book he so earnestly pushed me to write with his collaboration? Who do I return the book to that I borrowed from him? This has hit me harder than when my own Father passed. I think selfishly of my own loss of not being able to converse with a friend, then I think of his family...
Marly Carpenter May 13, 2011 at 01:18 AM
I knew Omar years ago, when he was working at Discovery Communications in Bethesda, MD. Discovery was a young company, full of hard-working professionals determined to make documentary TV work commercially. I could always count on Omar for a big smile and a friendly greeting, no matter how late everyone was working. His death is a tragedy felt on both coasts.
John Adams May 13, 2011 at 07:01 PM
I am a friend of Omar from the UF days. I shall remember his wit and charm and laid-back attitude. Omar, you are missed.

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