Jason Heit candidate forum
(Jason Heit speaking during the all-candidates forum hosted by the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce/Facebook)

One of the candidates for the Victoria byelection to fill an empty seat on council has announced he will be ending his campaign and endorsing someone else.

In his opening statement for an online forum hosted by the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce, candidate Jason Heit announced he would be ending his campaign and endorsing fellow candidate Stephen Andrew.

Heit, a gym owner and former professional athlete, said he believed his candidacy would “split the vote” between him and former broadcaster Andrew.

“I am too late to drop off the ballot, but I am in agreement that we need an independent person on there with no ties to the alignments that are going on at city hall,” said Heit.

“I believe that will bring a better balance to the citizens of Victoria.”

His decision had been made public on Tuesday, however the statement seemed to take Chamber CEO Bruce Williams, serving in the role of moderator for the forum, off guard.

“Jason, you want to stay a part of this?” Williams asked Heit during the first all-candidate question.

“You’re endorsing Stephen, but you’re going to stay a part of this conversation?”

Heit said he would stay in the conversation, but deferred to Williams for the final decision on if he should participate. Williams said he could stay.

With the informal withdrawal of Heit’s candidacy, 10 candidates remain in the race for a seat on Victoria’s council:

  • Stephen Andrew
  • Rob Duncan
  • Riga Godron
  • Stefanie Hardman
  • Bill Heflin
  • Sean Leitenberg
  • Hailey McLeod
  • Keith Rosenberg
  • Alexander Schmid
  • Roshan Vickery

Andrew, Hardman, Heflin, and Leitenberg were the only other candidates to participate in Wednesday’s online forum.

During comments on the live video, Hailey McLeod asked why she had been excluded from the conversation.

The Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce replied that they included individuals who had a demonstrated record of business experience, based on answers to a questionnaire they sent to all candidates.

In addition to McLeod and the candidates who participated in the online conversation, candidates Rob Duncan and Roshan Vickery submitted answers to the questionnaire. Those answers can be seen on the Chamber website.

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