When she was called on by this media out to debate the issues, she didn't hesitate.
The same cannot be said for her opponent, Willie J. Kimmons, who has gone out of his way to avoid being in the Sunshine. That Kimmons, 72 and a married man, was accused of rape earlier this year, an allegation that was dismissed by the State Attorney's Office, should not have precluded him from active participation in a media-style debate. In fact, he was the only no-show among the six candidates vying for rthree srats on the council.
Nothing should have precluded him from participating in the debate, short serious iinjury or illness, of which neither was in play.
After all, the fundamental right of innocence until or unless proven otherwise in a court of law is the standard we live by in this country -- whether or not a criminal act was committed. It's one thing to allege a criminal act. It's another to bring that peraon or pewrsons to trial and a jury of their peers.
What makes this particular case more trying is that teven as the state dismissed the case, the alleged victim has sought and was granted a hearing for a permanent order of protection to be heard before a Family law judge in circuit court on Nov. 9, the very next day after the election.
We all have our crosses to bear, so to speak, but the act of service above self is what elective office is supposed to be about. Wheeler herself, who just turned 70, has not had an easy time of it all. Her husband died suddenly midway through the campaign. But like Kimmons, she remains committed to the campaign's end and her hope for the district 2 seat on the council, representing greater Daytona Beach.
Wheeler has plenty of experience as an elected municipal leader in Daytona Beach Shores and as a past president of the Volusia League of Cities.
Kimmons has no prior experience in politics, though he has been active in civic causes for the benefit of poor children. Kimmons, a longtime college administrator and educator left his last two jobs in higher ed under a a cloud of controversy.
There are far too many unanswered questions for voters to put someone on dais who refuses to actively participate in debate where the questions can be tough, but the answers clearly answerable if one is transparent. Kimmons exercised his right to silence in the rape case, but that does not extend to the expectation of availability and transparency -- at the minimum, a call back.
With that said, Headline Surfer puts the full weight of its award-winning journalism and integrity in complete favor of endorsement to Billie Egger Wheeler, candidate for the district 2 seat on the Volusia County Council n Tuesday's general elections.