Chilliwack New Democrats chose former Chamber of Commerce executive director Patti MacAhonic on Saturday as their candidate for the May 14 provincial election.
MacAhonic faced off against Fraser Valley Regional District Area A director Dennis Adamson, who had previously lost to Chilliwack-Hope MLA Gwen O’Mahony for the NDP nomination for the 2012 byelection.
O’Mahony was acclaimed to run again in Chilliwack-Hope on Saturday.
In a speech before the vote, MacAhonic expressed her belief that Chilliwack is a progressive city.
“I believe that the NDP is well-positioned to win the province,” she said. “And don’t we want Chilliwack at the table?”
After MacAhonic’s speech, which drew considerable applause, Adamson, too, said he was impressed.
“Wow, that was good,” he said before addressing the crowd without notes and getting a little choked up. “Chilliwack families deserve better. Chilliwack families deserve the NDP.”
There were about 150 people at the meeting held at the Chilliwack Cultural Centre. Voting took place after the speeches and the delegates chose MacAhonic.
The former Chamber executive director joked about the controversial situation in which the Chamber board told her she had to resign if she won Saturday’s nomination.
“I’m officially unemployed as you all may know,” MacAhonic said after being chosen.
After she spoke, O’Mahony said a few words before party leader Adrian Dix stepped up.
“I think Chilliwack is NDP country,” Dix said. “I think [MacAhonic] and Gwen are going to make an extraordinary team of NDP candidates in Chilliwack.”
MacAhonic will face off against BC Liberal candidate John Martin who finished third in the Chilliwack-Hope byelection last spring running for the BC Conservatives.
Martin lost to O’Mahony who has represented the riding in Victoria since then.
O’Mahony will face off against BC Liberal Laurie Throness whom she beat to win the seat in the 2012 byelection.
Asked how strategy might shift in Chilliwack and Chilliwack-Hope if the BC Conservatives don’t come up with viable candidates, Dix said the notion of vote-splitting on the right is an insult to voters.
“I think it’s so disrespectful to the voters,” Dix said. “As if the 68 per cent of people who chose not to vote for the Liberals in the byelection, if they were given fewer choices would somehow have rallid to the govenment side? I don’t think that’s the case. I think you have to respect how people are going to vote.”
In the 2012 Chilliwack-Hope byelection, O’Mahony received 6,022 votes, Throness 4,593 and Martin 3,615.
- Premier to chat with women
Christy Clark will be in Chilliwack on Thursday but if any men want to have a word with the Premier they’ll be out of luck.
In fact, Chilliwack MLA John Les, candidates John Martin and Laurie Throness aren’t invited either.
As for local politicians, you can bet Mayor Sharon Gaetz and Coun. Sue Attrill will get invitations but Couns. Chuck Stam, Ken Huttema, Ken Popove, Jason Lum and Stewart McLean will certainly not.
That’s because Clark will be in town as part of her ongoing provincewide tour where she meets with groups of women only.
At some of the meetings—Vernon for example in December—Clark has been introduced by a local male MLA who then left the room.
- Conservatives show sign of life
The BC Conservatives promised candidates would be announced mid-January for the Chilliwack and Chilliwack-Hope constituencies.
But there was no sign of a name until Jan. 21 when the Chilliwack-Hope constituency association announced that local realtor Michael Henshall had submitted his nomination package for that riding.
In a press release issued Monday, the party announced it was accepting nominations until Jan. 31 for Chilliwack-Hope and the candidate would be chosen at a Feb. 9 meeting.
Nomination forms are available by emailing chwk.hope.BCCP@gmail.com.
As for the Chilliwack riding, the constituency association was dissolved after the departure of Ben Besler and John Martin, according to a party member.
There apparently have been efforts to rebuild but it is uncertain if the constituency association will be functional in time to choose candidates for the May election. There may be interest but the selection of candidates may fall to the provincial party organization.