Big debate Saturday at Brannon Center in New Smyrna Beach

NEW SMYRNA BEACH -- Headline Surfer will hold its first daylong series of debates Saturday at New Smyrna Beach's Brannon Center on Riverside Drive. So what separates our debates from other media offerings? Citizens are welcomed and even encouraged to ask candidates questions directly. The debates will be videotaped and produced for viewing on

We don't believe in acting as a filter to protect candidates, especially incumbents with cozy media relationships, from public scrutiny. The debates will feature eight different races, all with tie-ins to the Aug. 14 primaries. They will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. as follows: New Smyrna Beach City Commission zone 4, Volusia County Council seat 3, Volusia County chair, Supervisor of Elections, County Judge group 8, County Judge group 4, Clerk of the Circuit Court and State Attorney.

The public is welcomed to come to any and all of Saturday's seven debates. Anyone wishing to address the candidates will be required to give their first and last names for the record as well as the city they reside in (if its unincorporated Volusia County they would be asked to name the closest incorporated city or town to their residence). Please keep the questions on a professional level. Candidates are welcomed to have their supporters attend, along with signs, brochures, flyers and other paraphernalia, but these will be restricted to the back of the meeting hall. No tacking, taping or gluing of items on walls tables or other furniture will be allowed.

Headline Surfer is being assisted in the debates by the Public Watch Committee, a non-partisan entity which espouses open government and public dialogue. Its two members are Bob Tolley, who will serve as host of the debates, and Bob Rees, who will be the timekeeper. They will be assisted by Sally Gillies, a political blogger for Headline Surfer.

As editor and publisher of Headline Surfer, New Smyrna Beach's 24/7 Internet newspaper. I will be the moderator asking the candidates questions.

Here is the format:

Tolley will welcome the public and go over the ground rules. I will then introduce each of the candidates and ask them to make a 1-minute "opening statement." Then I will begin my Q&A with them. Each will have 1-5 minutes to answer depending on the complexity of the question. I will then ask one or more of the opponents to respond, with a 1-3 minute time limit, again depending on the complexity.

In some cases I may not ask for a response or a rebuttal or just simply move on to the next question. Then after my round of questions is completed, Tolley will involve the audience in asking questions. Candidates will be limited to 1 to 3 minutes. After that session is completed, I will then ask the candidates if they have anything they want to ask their opponents (limit one question).

Then I will ask the candidates to give closing arguments, justifying their candidacies, with a 3-minute limit.

Headline Surfer is working on arranging two more debates during the week of Aug. 1-4 or later, if necessary, prior to the Aug. 14 primary in greater Daytona Beach and in greater DeLand/Deltona.

Here is the line-up for Saturday's Brannon Center debates, including approximate times:

1st debate: 9 to 9:40 a.m.
Office: New Smyrna Beach City Commission, zone 4
Candidates: Ed Bidault, Steve Casserly and Kirk Jones
2nd debate: 9:50 to 11:20 a.m.
Office: Volusia County Council, dist. 3
Candidates: Deb Denys, Jim Hathaway and Justin Kennedy
3rd debate: 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Office: Volusia County Chair
Candidates: Jason Davis, Ted Doran and Carl Persis
4th debate: 1:10 to 2 p.m.
Office: Supervisor of Elections
Candidates:Teresa Apgar, Beaulah Blanks, Ed Kelly and incumbent Ann McFall
* McFall has informed Headline Surfer she will not participate in the debate, stating she has to attend to her official duties
5th debate: 2:10 to 2:25 p.m.
Office: County Judge, group 8
Candidates: Steven R. Burk, Dustin M. Havens,  Alan Holt, Christopher Kelly and Adam Warren
6th debate: 2:30 to 2:50 p.m. 
Office: County Judge, group 4
Candidates: incumbent Bryan A. Feigenbaum and Michael McDermott
7th debate: 2:55 to 3:50 p.m.
Office: Clerk of the Circuit Court
Candidates: Steve deLaroche and incumbent Diane Matousek
8th debate: 4 to 5 p.m.
Office: State Attorney
Candidates: incumbent R.J. Larizza and Stasia Warren

About the Blogger

Henry Frederick's picture

Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet newspaper serving the Daytona Beach-Orlando metro area via, launched April 7, 2008, as Florida's first around-the-clock online newspaper. Frederick is among the Sunshine State's most experienced reporters with scores of regional, state & national journalism-industry awards for nearly 100 breaking news & investigative reporting stories in Florida, New York, Massachusetts & Connecticut.
View his blog archives here

User login