Headline Surfer Public Candidate Debates: Willie J. Kimmons a no-show vs. Billie Egger Wheeler for County Council Dist 2 seat

Willie J Kimmons a no0show for Headline Surfer Public Candidate Debate for County Council / Headline SurferHeadline Surfer video by Multimedia Editor Serafina Frederick / Billie Egger Wheeler is excited to learn she is being endorsed by Headline Surfer for her candidacy in the Volusia County Council District 2 seat over Willie J. Kimmons (shown below in an unrelated event), who was a no-show in the Headline Surfer Public Candidate Debates on Friday. You can watch the district 2 debate here where Wheeler went it alone in answering the questions of the moderator, award-winning journalist Henry Frederick, publisher of the internet news outlet. This was the first of three debates held Friday morning, Oct. 21, at the BFFAR (Bikers For First Amendment Rights), 745 Ridgewood Ave. (8th Street), Holly Hill. The second debate was for the District 4 seat on the County Council between candidates Heather Post and Al Smith. The third debate was for County Chair between incumbent Jason Davis and challeger Ed Kelley. These latter two debates are featured separately as well as intervirews with several candidates for other offices who showed up. 
 
By HENRY FREDERICK
Headline Surfer

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- As expected, Willie J. Kimmons was the only no-show Friday morning in the Headline Surfer Public Candidate Debates videotaped in a Holly Hill social club for three County Council seats up for grabs in the Nov. 8 general elections.

While Kimmons stayed home, that didn't stop Headline Surfer from discussing the issues with his opponent, Billie Egger Wheeler, a Daytona Beach Shores city commissioner, in the race for the County Council District 2 seat.

The second debate featured County Council District 4 candidates Heather Post and Al Smith, which was contentious throughout. The third and final debate was for County Chair between the incumbent office holder, Jason Davis, and his challenger, Ed Kelley, winner of the Aug. 30 primary that had four candidates with Kelley and Davis moving on to the Nov. 8 runoff.

There was no primary for the district 2 seat because Wheeler and Kimmons were the only candidates to seek the office succeeding Joshua J. Wagner, who is barred by term limits from serving beyond his eight-year tenure, which ends Dec. 31.

While Kimmons, 72, decided to stay away from the debate, it didn't stop Headline Surfer from discussing the likely situation keeping him from coming into the Sunshine: Win or lose in the general election, there's a hearing set the very next day, Nov. 9, before a family law judge as to whether a permanent injunction of protection barring Kimmons from having any contact with a woman who alleges he brutally raped her on Feb. 19, a claim for which the State Attorney's Office said it would not pursue criminal charges against Kimmons, citing insufficient evidence. Kimmons, accompanied by prominent defense attorney, J. Peyton Quarles, refused to cooperate with Daytona Beach police.

The rape allegations were reported publicly for the first time on Sept. 29, by Headline Surfer, after receiving an anonymous tip and contacting the State Attorney's Office with a public records request for "any and all" documents related to the case. The State Attorney's Office subsequently released a series of documents totaling close to 100 pages, the same documentation SAO spokesman Spencer Hathaway said were sent to the Daytona Beach News-Journal on July 23 in fulfilling the public records request of the daily newspaper of record for Volusia and Flagler counties. 

But the News-Journal did not publish a story on the rape allegations against Kimmons until Oct. 20, the day before the Headline Surfer Public Candidate Debates for three County Council seats, including the district 2 contest between Kimmons and Billie Egger Wheeler.

Then two days later, the News-Journal wrote a second story on Kimmons, headlined, "Volusia Council District 2 candidates keep low profile" in which the rape allegations were not mentioned at all. Headline Surfer inquired of the News-Journal why it waited until the eve of the internet news outlet's debates to report on the rape allegations to which the reporter who wrote the story, Dustin Wyatt, simply wrote back, "Thanks for the feedback."

DBNJ email with Headline Surfer / Headline SurferDustin Wyatt of the Daytona Beach News-Journal / Headline Surfer The rape allegations were reported publicly for the first time on Sept. 29, by Headline Surfer, after receiving an anonymous tip and contacting the State Attorney's Office wih a public records request for "any and all" documents related to the case. 

The State Attorney's Office released a series of documents totaling close to 100 pages, the same documentation SAO spokesman Spencer Hathaway said were sent to the Daytona Beach News-Journal on July 23 in fulfilling the public records request of the daily newspaper of record for Volusia and Flagler counties. 

But the News-Journal did not publish a story on the rape allegations until Oct. 20, the day before the Headline Surfer Public Candidate Debates for three County Council seats, including the district 2 contest between Kimmons and Billie Egger Wheeler.

Then two days later, the News-Journal wrote a second story on Kimmons and Wheeler, headlined,"Volusia Council District 2 candidates keep low profile" in which the rape allegations were not mentioned at all.

Headline Surfer inquired of the News-Journal why it waited until the eve of the internet news outlet's debates to report on the rape allegations, to which the reporter who wrote the story, Dustin Wyatt, shown here along with the email exchange, simply wrote back, "Thanks for the feedback."

Numerous attempts by Headline Surfer to reach Kimmons and Quarles by social media messaging and telephone calls did not result in return messages or call backs from either of them. 

Wheeler was uncomfortable in talking about the rape allegation, saying that as a former victim's advocate herself, she felt "empathy for the (alleged) victim, but added, ultimately "it's up to the voters" as to what they choose to believe.

"All I can do is be honorable -- I don't have baggage," Wheeler, 69, said during the debate. "Anyone can look at my history and see there's a clean slate."

Wheeler said she's built relationships with Volusia Counties 16 municipalities as past president of the Volusia League of Cities. 

As for other topics asked of Wheeler in the one-side debate:

She said she's against any more driving areas being removed from the beach and favors some kind of homeless facility out by the jail -- "one centralized location" where county land is available.

Wheeler said her No. 1 priority, if elected, is dealing with homelessness.

Multimedia: District 2 County Council Debate
You can listen to the entirety of the first debate by clicking the video above. It is is 13:10 long with no cuts. 
 
Editor's Note: Alleged Rape Victim's Story 
Headline Surfer has interviewed the woman who accuses Willie J. Kimmons of rape and will publish a story from her perspective this coming Sunday.
Henry Frederick Picture

Short Bio

Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet news outlet covering the Daytona Beach-Sanford-Orlando metro area via HeadlineSurfer.com for a decade now. A longtime cops & courts reporter focused on breaking news & investigative reporting, Frederick is among the Sunshine State's most prolific daily news reporters, having amassed dozens of journalism-industry awards in print anddigital platforms. Frederick is enrolled at Full Sail University in Winter Garden, FL, where he's three-fourths through the online Master of Arts program in New Media Journalism. His graduation is in August.