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-New Smyrna Beach / Sanford-Orlando metropolitan region via Florida's first around-the-clock newspaper was launched April 7, 2008, in New Smyrna Beach, initially as and Headline Surfer is a registered trademark of NSB News LLC. Headline Surfer® Publisher Henry Frederick, is recognized as one of Florida's top award-winning cops & courts reporters, who has received more awards for such coverage than any other reporter working in Central Florida. He's the top journalist in the Florida Press Club two years running with seven journalism awards for 15 breaking news and investigative stories, three blogs and top internet site. He's the only reporter to win awards for coverage of the Trayvon Martin slaying as well as the subsequent George Zimmerman murder trial acquittal in Sanford. He's also won state, regional and national journalism awards for his coverage of cops and courts fear 8 1/2 years at the Daytona Beach News-Journal, where he witnessed and reported on the execution of serial killer Aileen Wuornos and covered the civil trial brought by NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt's widow to keep his autopsy files sealed. Before that before he covered cops & courts for Gannett Suburban Newspapers / The Journal News in Westchester and Rockland counties in New York, where he won a highly-coveted Associated Press Award for breaking news. Before launching the 24/7 internet newspaper in 2008, he was an award-winning city editor for the Taunton Daily Gazette, in his native Massachusetts for two years, winning a national investigative award on municipal corruption. The first of Frederick's three books, for which he has secured publishing rights, is called "Creepy Ass Cracker" (840 pages, Xlibris), which will hit bookstores in September. His second book, "Wrestling ReWind," is expected to be published in January 2015. The third book is not yet titled.
View his blog archives here

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