Chilliwack's worst-kept secret is finally out.
Chamber of Commerce executive director Patti MacAhonic will vie for the NDP nomination for the Chilliwack riding in the spring provincial election.
MacAhonic made her announcement Monday morning at an event held at the Best Western.
Rumours of MacAhonic's plan to run for the NDP go back to last summer when she told the Times she was asked by the party to consider running.
Yale resident Dennis Adamson, second-term Area A director for the Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD), will also seek the NDP nomination, which will be decided at a meeting Jan. 19 at the Chilliwack Cultural Centre.
Adamson lost the NDP nomination for last year's Chilliwack-Hope byelection to eventual winner Gwen O'Mahony.
Adamson lives in the Fraser Canyon but said he resided in Chilliwack for seven years and, because of his work at the FVRD, he is familiar with local issues.
At the event Monday, MacAhonic spoke to provincewide polls that see BC Liberal fortunes sinking.
"I believe that the NDP is well-positioned to win the province and don't we want Chilliwack at the table?" she said.
When asked if the departure of long-time Chilliwack MLA John Les helped her chances, MacAhon-ic chose to focus on the current candidate.
"There are two ways of looking at it: John [Les] had a long run here and he had some difficulties and that might have been time if he had stuck around," she said. "And the fact that they have brought in John Martin who is not sure what he [is]-he is a Conservative and now he is a Liberal-I think doesn't hurt me at all either."
MacAhonic is the single mother of three children who moved to Chilliwack at the age of 29 after her husband died as a result of an industrial accident.
Orion Engar, who introduced MacA-honic Monday, pointed to this incident 22 years ago and her subsequent work in logging and mining as an example of her mettle.
"This is one tough woman," he said. After being widowed, MacAhonic helped push for legislation to protect the survivors of workplace fatalities. She then spent 15 years volunteering with the Canadian Injured Workers Alliance and, before being hired as executive director of the Chamber on Nov. 1, 2011, she was the executive director of the British Columbia Wildlife Federation.
When asked Friday what motivated her to run, her first response was the HST.
"I want to see a government with integrity," she told the Times. "What government is, is a public service. We are supposed to serve the public, and when people get things shoved down their throats, [when politicians] say one thing and do another, it really motivated me to step forward."
MacAhonic was granted a leave of absence from her role at the Chilliwack Chamber of Commerce effective Jan. 4 until the Jan. 19 nomination meeting.
She also asked for a leave for the election period if she is nominated. When asked Friday, Chamber board president Kevin Gemmell would not comment on whether MacAhonic's request for an election campaign leave was denied.
On Monday, however, the Chamber issued a press release that confirmed it.
"If Ms. MacAhonic is successful in her bid for nomination, the board of directors of the Chilliwack Chamber of Commerce have asked her to tender her resignation as executive director," the release said. "At that point, a new executive director will be sought with hopes of filling the position by March 2013."
MacAhonic said she intended to file a letter of reconsideration to the board of directors regarding the election leave.
The BC Liberals held a nomination meeting in October for the May 14 provincial election at which time former BC Conservative candidate and UFV criminology professor John Martin was acclaimed for the Chilliwack riding.
In Chilliwack-Hope, the Liberals acclaimed Laurie Throness who lost the seat to O'Mahony in the 2012 byelection. O'Mahony will run for the NDP.
The BC Conservatives are set to announce candidates for both ridings some time this month.