By Civics Committee Chair & Civics Forum Moderator Andrew M. Crockett


A month ago, on January 24, 2024, the San José Odd Fellows Community Center Hall hosted a Civics Forum featuring the four candidates running in the City of San José District 6 City Council – the District in which the Community Center is located. This unique event was NOT a debate but rather a forum where candidates articulated their positive positions on issues facing the District without attacking their competitors.

To ensure adherence to this structure, we took guidance from the watchwords of Odd Fellowship – the three links of Friendship, Love, & Truth – and not only had a Fact Checker (Brother Scott Spence), but also a Friendliness Checker (Brother John Jensen) to note any breaches of these intentions for the event. This report summarizes not only their findings, but also the general result of this event to bolster the civic health of our local democracy. 

In summary: the event was a success. All voters in attendance we spoke with said they loved the refreshingly non-confrontational format of the Civic Forum, as well as the ability to speak with the candidates before and after the event. The candidates likewise enjoyed the format of the Civic Forum and adhered to its rules with only minor transgressions noted by the Fact & Friendliness checkers. The event was attended by more than 70 people in person, dozens more online via Zoom, and has been seen by hundreds more voters via our Lodge YouTube and TikTok pages. We look forward to hosting future Civic Forums to serve our community and democracy.

Present Council Member Dev Davis
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The Civics Committee of True Fellowship Lodge #52, IOOF solicited questions from District 6 voters via social media and our website before the Civics Forum. The committee then researched the topics and incorporated them into the questions presented in the Civics Forum, which were presented to them by the moderator in the following format:

(1) the issue category

(2) summary of how this issue category impacts District 6 

(3) a question asking for their position on the issue category 

Each candidate was given 2 minutes of uninterrupted time to provide their answer. Audience clapping was curtailed after the candidate introductions as a means of ensuring that the candidates would have the maximum possible time to speak and share their positions during our 90-minutes of allotted time for the Civic Forum. The order of speakers was shifted each round to ensure fairness.

The agenda was straightforward:

  1. Remind everyone to silence their cell phones
  2. Pledge of Allegiance
  3. An introduction to the event provided by outgoing District 6 Council Member Dev Davis (we provided her talking points, and she provided the rest).
  4. Moderator’s Opening Remarks (where I provided the “rules” to the Civic Forum for the candidates and attendee’s benefit)
  5. Each candidate got a 2 minute opening statement.
  6. We proceeded to address the following topics in the question segment:
    1. Community
    2. Business Growth
    3. Housing
    4. Sustainability
    5. The City Budget
    6. Public Safety
    7. The San Jose Google Campus
    8. Bonus Question #1: Historical Remembrance
    9. Bonus Question #2: Leadership Style (Omitted due to time constraints)
  7. Each candidate got a 1 minute closing statement.
  8. Moderator’s Closing Remarks, acknowledging and thanking the candidates for participating.

Due to the efforts of our Timekeeper (Brother Mason Wolf), we were able to broadcast the event live on Zoom (with the exception of one part that dropped due to an internet connection issue), and have subsequently made the Zoom recording available for public review on our Lodge website. An unabridged copy of the Civics Forum moderator script – including all components, questions, and prompts – is available for download HERE.


Our designated Fact Checker, Brother Scott Spence, summarized his findings as “Everyone gets a Pass.”

The reason for such a simple summary is that, when it comes to facts there is public record on, everyone spoke with accuracy. 

However, there were some matters where candidates spoke from positions of private or privileged information which is not independently verifiable. Candidate Alex Shoor had several anecdotes falling into this category, as he evidently knows many private community members that provide him with insights that he can only publicly share with anonymity.

Likewise, there were instances where candidates proposed ideas that were, in some way, unfeasible. For example, Candidate Angelo “AJ” Pasciuti spoke about the City of San José engaging in revenue recapture in his response to the San Jose City Budget question, though the specific example he provided regarding bringing contracted Ambulance Services inside the City would be unfeasible given that present California state law only grants County governments the right to do this. While yes, it is possible to change state law, doing so is unfeasible. 

Since there were no clear errors by any candidates, and any suspect points were either not verifiable or not technically impossible, the conclusion is “Everyone gets a Pass.”


Our designated Friendliness Checker, Brother John Jensen, provided the following summary of his findings:

All four candidates exhibited great decorum during this forum. More than a few times, there was a favorable mention of another candidate by the candidate speaking. 

However, at one point while answering the third question relating to housing, Candidate Olivia Navarro stated: “…nobody has a true answer, and if somebody tells you that they do, I’m sorry to say I think they’re lying to you.” While true, given that she was the first to answer the question, this poisons the well for other candidates. Poisoning the well is a type of informal fallacy where adverse information about a target is preemptively presented to an audience, with the intention of discrediting or ridiculing something that the target person is about to say. It wasn’t necessarily adverse information, and it was only inferring (rather than explicitly calling out) the three other candidates. However, we were asking all the candidates to deliver their answer to the question, not disparage other candidate’s solutions (or potential solutions).

My own experience as moderator had one other occurrence worthy of mention in this friendliness section, which took place during our Public Safety Question (which unfortunately took place during our internet interruption, so there is no recording of this interaction). The question included the statement “District 6 is frequently called a safe community in San Jose though it also faces challenges, as can be seen in how the CVS Pharmacy on The Alameda shut down due to excessive shoplifting losses…” This fact was included in the question because one of the former employees of the CVS Pharmacy spoke with a member of the Civics Committee about the closure, and characterized it as being driven by shoplifting losses. The first candidate to speak on this question, Candidate Michael Mulcahy, attacked the question, rejecting that shoplifting was the reason for the CVS Pharmacy’s closure saying that he had spoken with the management of that business about the closure. He then insinuated that the lodge’s Fact Checkers were poor quality and did not do their research for this question. While this was not an attack on any of the other candidates, the opportunity was there for a friendly response such as “more happened with CVS than just shoplifting…” or “where did you get your information from? For I spoke with the management and they said…”, and yet he chose this as an opportunity to be hostile to his hosts. As a result of this experience, we will explicitly include in future rules that the candidates ought to be friendly with each other as well as their hosts.


Candidate Angelo “AJ” Pasciuti told me after the Civic Forum: 

“The event at the Odd Fellows hall was one of the most memorable experiences from the campaign trail so far. The atmosphere, audience, and well constructed questions allowed each participant to connect with voters in an authentic and engaging way. I look forward to more opportunities for conversations like this in the future!”

His words reflect the general sentiment of every candidate after the event.

Voters in attendance commented on the very friendly environment. One commented that they wished every election race had a candidate forum like this, as it allowed them to judge the candidates based on their positions, rather than trying to parse out their positions during a verbal fight amongst the candidates on stage. Additionally, many in attendance were pleased they could come up to the candidates afterwards and ask not only follow-up questions: but secure yard signs, swag, and find other ways to support their favorite candidate after the Civics Forum.

Lastly, several attendees expressed interest in Odd Fellowship as a result of this unusually friendly campaign event. We not only invited them to attend any of our upcoming events, we let them know that if they wanted to see more events like the Civics Forum, they could join our lodge to become part of the Civics Committee to ensure future events take shape.

As stated at the start: the event was a success. And we genuinely desire more events like it to take shape not only at True Fellowship Lodge #52, but elsewhere at other Lodges and Community Centers under the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.