Livermore City Councilman Bob Coomber, who is in need of a kidney transplant, announced this week that he will not seek re-election in November in order to concentrate on his health.
Coomber, 65, already on the waiting list at Stanford University Medical Center, said he plans to see doctors and register for similar lists at UC San Francisco Medical Center and UC Davis Medical Center, "which will require a lot of travel."
"I'll miss a lot of city events and things I don't usually miss," Coomber said. "I can't devote my whole attention to the office."
Elected in 2016, Coomber said he had considered his decision over the past few weeks, telling his wife Gina which way he was leaning. He made up his mind to not run late last week and made his announcement during Monday night's council meeting.
Coomber said he would "rather see someone younger and with more energy" take his position. He will serve out his term until a new council member is elected.
Doctors diagnosed Coomber’s kidney condition – chronic kidney failure -- a little more than a year ago when he was feeling fatigued. It was just his latest health challenge.
Diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in his teens, osteoporosis ravaged his legs and shattered his bones. He has spent the rest of his life using a wheelchair and requiring insulin.
Despite that, he continued his love of hiking along wilderness trails and enjoying nature, especially in Sycamore Grove Park. Last year, the documentary “4 Wheel Bob” chronicled his unsuccessful attempt to become the first person in a wheelchair to cross the nearly 12,000-foot elevation Kearsarge Pass in the Sierra Nevada. The documentary is available on Amazon Prime Video.
Coomber’s exploits in hiking mountain trails has resulted in numerous honors, including his election to the California Outdoors Hall of Fame in 2007. The Bush Administration honored him with a President’s Council on Physical Fitness Community Leadership award in 2008.
During an interview Tuesday, Coomber relaxed in Sycamore Grove Park and watched a red fox scamper past him as he talked of his council decision. He said he was proud during his term to take part in approving a $6 million complex to house a new City Council chamber and emergency operations center near the city’s Civic Center and library; and in the decision to move the 128-year-old historic Southern Pacific train depot building to the transit center in downtown Livermore.
“We moved things forward in a lot of ways,” he said.
Coomber, who also has served on the Livermore Area Recreation & Park District board of directors and with the East Bay Regional Park District Advisory Committee, said he will most miss talking to the people in the street and coffee shops, and bringing their input back to the council.
“It’s good that we can engage that way,” Coomber said.
Coomber said that although he needs a kidney, he has not required dialysis.
“I still feel pretty good,” he said. “I know this can’t happen soon enough to get a new kidney. Even if it happened tomorrow, I wouldn’t be up and running for several months.”