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A Conversation with Amir Omar - Iranian American Candidate for Richardson City Council

Source: Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA), Washington, D.C.



A first generation American of Iranian and Palestinian descent, Omar describes himself as, "living proof that the American dream is alive and well." A successful business manager and community activist, Omar recently declared his candidacy for City Council - Place 7 in Richardson, Texas.

A life long Texan, Omar grew up in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas. Omar attended Texas A&M University where he majored in Industrial Distribution. While at Texas A&M, he joined the Corps of Cadets, which helped him develop his leadership skills and foster a deep appreciation for our Armed Services.

Omar is now a Major Accounts Manager for Verizon Communications. He has worked in the communications field in sales and management for over 9 years. A strong believer in public service and community involvement, Omar is a member of the FBI Citizens Academy Alumni Association, Richardson Chamber of Commerce, Richardson Young Professionals Executive Committee, Richardson Rotary, Richardson Toastmasters, and Leadership Richardson. He is also a member of the Board of Richardson Regional Medical Center's Foundation. In 2009, Omar was awarded as Richardson's Chamber of Commerce Volunteer of the year.

Omar's campaign for City Council marks his second bid for public office. In 2006, he was a candidate for the 30th Congressional District of Texas. Although Omar's bid to serve in the U.S. Congress fell short, his campaign did receive a tremendous amount of enthusiasm within Dallas County. Omar received several high profile endorsements and a recommendation from the Dallas Morning News, the 10th largest newspaper in the country.

After the 2006 election, Omar focused his attention on having a positive and lasting impact on his community. His desire to help Richardson's economy thrive, and bringing a new level of energy with fresh perspectives to help address the city's needs, has led to his candidacy for City Council. Omar faces incumbent Dennis Stewart in the May 9th non-partisan election.

Recently, PAAIA and its connected PAC, IAPAC, had the opportunity to speak with Omar about his up-coming campaign, learn about his past experiences running for public office, and what role Iranian Americans can play in his campaign.

PAAIA/IAPAC: Why have you decided to run for public office again?

Omar: Starting hours after the election results came in I began getting calls from inside and out of the Persian community encouraging me to run again. Between the widely distributed Dallas Morning News endorsement and the above the fray campaign, many thought the effort was positive and meaningful. I sat down 2-3 days later and did a full post mortem in order to capture both hits and misses in the last campaign so that I would be more prepared in the future.

PAAIA/IAPAC: What is the biggest challenge one faces when running for public office?

Omar: The biggest challenge is raising the money needed to touch voters multiple times before the election. With a short window raising it quickly will be important. The rest is about how many doors I knock and whether people find me trustworthy and competent.

PAAIA/IAPAC: What are some of the lessons that you learned from your first campaign that you will incorporate in this election?

Omar: The biggest lesson I learned was that walking was key. I also learned that getting the mail out in time is important. Areas I walked heavily last time I won 2:1 but the areas where I did not I lost 4:1. When your name sounds funny people will not vote for you if all else is the same (they know neither candidate). I also found that I was considerably more effective in areas where my mail got to them on time. The mail timing is a by-product of the desire to raise the needed funds fast.

PAAIA/IAPAC: How will you communicate your ideas to the public?

Omar: I have already knocked on 1000 doors and will knock on 3000 more. There are 13 neighborhood forums during the campaign, and I hope to supplement those forums with neighborhood specific mailers.

PAAIA/IAPAC: What is your fundraising goal for this election?

Omar: My goal is to raise $30,000. Timing is everything and getting the bulk of that right away is important.

PAAIA/IAPAC: What are the most critical issues facing the City of Richardson today and how do you plan on addressing those issues?

Omar: We need to freeze senior property tax permanently and cap spending in our city until the country begins to recover from the economic downturn. Although Richardson has weathered the storm nicely, nobody can predict if that will hold up. It is far better to be proactive in this regard than reactive. Run Down Apartments are an issue as they lower property values and increase the crime rate. We need to get tough with landlords that allow their property to be in this condition and expedite the efforts to condemn the buildings when they repeatedly don't pass inspection. Retail development has also been lacking considering our size. I plan to have a directed marketing campaign to particular segments in retail that will involve direct Councilman efforts with the leaders of those companies. It is time that our Councilmen sell our city directly to the decision makers.

PAAIA/IAPAC: What role do you think Iranian Americans can play in your campaign?

Omar: Two things that will help the most is getting the word out and raising the funds quickly. If we can locally get the word out and get local support locked in while raising the funds needed, we can and will win in May.

Click here to learn more about Amir Omar's Campaign.

... Payvand News - 02/23/09 ... --

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