Joshua Lafazan sworn in as youngest-ever Nassau County legislator
As the youngest person to ever get elected to the Nassau County Legislature after he defeated incumbent Donald MacKenzie by capturing 55.9 percent of the 14,436 votes cast in District 18 on Election Day, Joshua Lafazan has big plans knowing that he’ll be working on the county level. The ever-ambitious 23-year-old, who first made news when he was elected to the Syosset School Board of Education at the age of 18, shared his vision at the recent swearing-in ceremony that was held for him at the Jericho High School auditorium.
Appearing before a devoted multi-cultural crowd of supporters, Lafazan was joined on stage by a number of officials, many of whom he had direct, personal ties to. With Robert Zimmerman of Zimmerman/Edelson Inc. serving as the evening’s emcee, the freshman legislator was joined onstage by an array of officials, including former United States Congressman Steve Israel, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and Nassau County Comptroller Jack Schnirman. While the evening’s running joke centered on Lafazan’s youth, it was repeatedly pointed out how the combination of his enthusiasm, passion and hard work got him to this point.
Appropriately enough, New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, who was and continues to be the youngest person in state history to be elected to public office, swore in Lafazan, who followed in DiNapoli’s footsteps by getting elected to the Syosset Board of Education as a senior in Syosset High School in 2012. Lafazan was joined onstage for his oath by 15-year-old brother Aaron Lafazan. DiNapoli’s comments leading up to the swearing-in ceremony reflected the admiration he has for the freshman legislator for whom DiNapoli has become a mentor and a friend. He went as far as to compare Lafazan to Teddy Roosevelt, who was elected to the state assembly at the age of 24 and wrote to his own family that he “rose like a rocket in Albany.”
“Often younger people are left out in our society. Josh, you’ve become a spokesman, not only for your generation, but you understand the importance of having everyone at the table and making sure that no one is left out. And [including] those who are in the shadows and those who are suffering, who need to have a voice as well,” DiNapoli said. “I look at you as someone who comes to this position at a key time in our county’s history.”
Lafazan, whose district covers East Hills, Greenvale, Woodbury, Syosset, Laurel Hollow, Oyster Bay Cove, Oyster Bay, Cove Neck, Centre Island, Bayville, Mill Neck, Lattingtown, Locust Valley, Matinecock, the Brookvilles, Muttontown, East Norwich and Glen Head, eagerly laid out his legislative goals. He touched on his plans to fight the opioid epidemic as a legislator, which was the centerpiece of his inaugural press conference at the Theodore Roosevelt Legislative and Executive Building in Mineola that touched on potential actions, including a 24-hour hotline and substance-free college dormitories. He also vowed to help affect change regarding government corruption and helping stop Long Island’s brain drain.
“Following [County Executive] Laura Curran’s example, I will make ethics and transparency a legislative priority in Mineola. We need term limits for elected officials, because serving in government should be a privilege. We need to fix a broken and corrupt property tax assessment system, cap campaign contributions made by those receiving contracts and eliminate loopholes that companies use to exploit campaign finance laws once and for all,” Lafazan explained. “Lastly, we need to keep our young people right here on Long Island. That is why, just like we built dedicated senior housing, we should be building housing dedicated specifically to youths who will contribute to our local economies. Tax credits for builders providing youth housing and a discounted LIRR ticket to commute to New York City for work can keep millennials right here on Long Island. And I’m going to push for all of that as your legislator this session.”