‘Long haul’ on the ‘high road’ for NDP nomination hopeful in Chilliwack

MacAhonic says she won't fight to keep her job as executive director at the Chilliwack Chamber of Commerce if she wins the nomination.

Patti MaAhonic NDP nomination hopeful in the Chilliwack riding.

Patti MaAhonic NDP nomination hopeful in the Chilliwack riding.

NDP nomination hopeful Patti MacAhonic says she’s taking “the high road” and will resign as executive director of the Chilliwack Chamber of Commerce if elected this week as the NDP candidate in Chilliwack.

Earlier, MacAhonic had vowed to challenge the chamber board’s decision not to extend her unpaid leave of absence, if she won the NDP nomination.

MacAhonic and Dennis Adamson, Yale area director at the Fraser Valley Regional District, will square off at a nomination meeting Jan. 19 in Chilliwack.

MacAhonic told The Progress on Thursday that after meeting with chamber president Kevin Gemmell and other board members, she decided not to ask them to reconsider their refusal to extend an unpaid leave of absence to the May 14, 2013 election, when she’ll find out if she’s won the job as MLA.

“They really feel they’ll have a hard time getting (a replacement),” she said, “and if this keeps going on, it’s going to hurt the image of the chamber.”

And that’s not something MacAhonic wants to do after investing most of her life over the past two years to building up the organization.

“It is highly unusual that people have to step down,” she said, to run for political office. “But I’m going to take the high road.”

It’s not a road unfamiliar to MacAhonic, who also cleared up inaccurate media reports about the death of her first husband in an industrial accident.

In fact, she said, he took his own life in 1988 after struggling with a “very serious” brain injury caused by the accident.

A 29-year-old widow with three children, MacAhonic threw herself into successfully changing legislation that left unprotected the children and survivors of workplace fatalities.

She also went on to get a Masters Degree in business and to become the executive director of the BC Brain Injury Association and the BC Wildlife Federation.

She is now married to husband Randy and together they have four children.

“It’s been a long haul, it really has,” MacAhonic said.

rfreeman@theprogress.com

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