Feature Story                                                                                             Tuesday, January 8, 2012


MacAhonic Throws Hat In

Chamber of Commerce Executive Director seeks party support for Chilliwack riding

Staff/Voice photo


Patti MacAhonic announces her nomination at the Best Western Hotel on Monday.


t was short, sweet, and to the point. On Monday, Patti MacAhonic, announced her bid to be the BC NDP candidate for the Chilliwack riding at the Best Western Hotel.


She is on temporary leave as Executive Director of the Chilliwack Chamber of Commerce until the party's nomination meeting on January 19th when she will go toe-to-toe with FVRD Area B Director Dennis Adamson.


In a Chamber release sent out to other local media, President Kevin Gemmel and the board denied her request for a leave of absence from January 19th to election day on May 14th, but granted her a short-term leave until the nomination meeting.


MacAhonic told reporters Monday that she is planning on asking the board to reconsider their decision. If not, then she will resign at the Chamber in order to focus on her election campaign. Despite that, she enjoys a strong rapport with the board of directors.


"I have to say, my overall relationship with the board and the individual members have been very positive, and I want to keep it that way."


Speaking to about 30-40 supporters, MacAhonic said she believes Chilliwack is ready for a change because voters have been polarized by the BC Liberals since electing the current MLA in 2001.


Regardless of a strong showing in the polls for the NDP, MacAhonic still considers herself a long shot, saying that she has overcome the odds many times in the past.


"What I know from those experiences, is that I thrive on challenge, and the new challenge that I want to take on is building a stronger future for the people of Chilliwack," she said. "My experience has been, as long as truth is on their side, underdogs working together have been able to do remarkable things. Making positive change and making a sustainable difference."


MacAhonic indicated the feedback she's been getting has been largely supportive of her bid and says people are fed up with "fear-based politics" from the current government and wants to unite "progressive thinkers".


 "I believe that people in our province want a government with integrity, a government that does what they say they're going to do and does not turn around and do something different," she said. "This is a time to bring real and lasting change to our community and province, reflecting the progressive values and a progressive government led by the NDP."


According to MacAhonic, the NDP is signing up more business people than ever.


"I think this is probably the only time in Chilliwack NDP history where we've got a lot of members that are businesses now."


To MacAhonic, youth is key to change and diversity is needed.


"I believe we have to get young people, and I see some of my young supporters here today, involved, not only in conversation, but at the decision-making level." she said.


Backed by an MBA in Corporate Social Responsibility, MacAhonic says people, planet and profit are her core values.


"We need to consider all three equally when we're making decisions, and I really believe that now more than ever, we need strategic thinking to insure long-term stability as we move forward into this new era."


For MacAhonic, the time is right to move into politics.


"It's a big step for me. I've put a lot of thought into it," she said. "I believe the time is right for myself and my family personally, as well as for our community and the province."


Speaking with reporters afterward, MacAhonic said she is a seasoned leader at the executive and the director levels in the fields of health, conservation and business.


"I've worked in Victoria extensively. I've been pounding the pavement getting legislation changed for many years. We can't make short-term decisions that are at the expense of our future."


About Patti MacAhonic

From early roles in Health and Safety in BC logging, forestry, and mining industries, to her former role as Executive Director of the BC Wildlife Federation, and recently as Executive Director of the Chilliwack Chamber of Commerce, Patti demonstrates commitment to making a sustainable difference. She is just as comfortable in the outdoors, fishing or riding a Harley, as she is in the boardroom. Her educational background includes an honours BA in Adult Education and an MBA in Executive Management.


Her deep passion to make a difference was ignited after her late husband died as a result of an industrial accident. Patti's lobbying efforts were instrumental in the passing of BCs Bill C-37 in 2003, concerning the rights of children and survivors of workplace fatalities. She has been a committed volunteer advisor for the Canadian Injured Workers Alliance for over 15 years.


As a fisheries advocate she was granted standing in the Cohen Inquiry, targeting solutions to the 2009 drastic decrease of Sockeye salmon in the Fraser River. Other negotiations helped produce groundbreaking discussion involving First Nations and recreational fisheries, leading to the River Manners video and the first-ever partnership and working table for river safety based on mutual respect.


During her time with the Chilliwack Chamber, she has successfully spearheaded important policy on derelict buildings. Most recently, in conjunction with the Fraser Valley Chambers, Patti worked collaboratively on behalf of Chilliwack businesses to implement Mobile Business Licensing, which cuts red tape, reduces business costs, enabling Chilliwack Businesses to operate more easily across participating jurisdictions, while enhancing revenue opportunities for businesses and municipalities.


From  initiating a volunteer Fire Department, to securing agreement with the National Food Bank for ongoing shipments of nutritious food to a 6000 person community, commitment to positive change continues to be her goal.


Recognized by the Minerva Foundation as a Community Leader (2007), Patti was  nominated for the YWCA 2010 Women of Distinction Award. She has lived in Chilliwack for over 22-years,  is married to her husband Randy, and has 4 Children and 5 grandchildren.



Copyright (c) 2012 The Valley Voice