A Talk with Legislator Josh Lafazan
Legislator Josh Lafazan, at 23-years of age, became Nassau County’s youngest-ever legislator upon his election to the Nassau County Legislature in November of 2017. He is currently serving his first term, where he represents Nassau’s 18th Legislative District. He is running for re-election this November 5th. Josh is also a college professor, where he is the youngest faculty member at Long Island University. Josh’s course teaches young people how to run for office in their communities.
In May 2012, at the age of 18, Josh became one of the youngest elected officials in the history of New York State when he was elected to the Syosset School Board of Education. Josh was elected with 82% of the vote one month before he graduated from Syosset High School, and was re-elected in 2015. Josh ran for this position on the Syosset School Board because at the time his teachers were facing a pay cut while the superintendent of schools was earning over half a million dollars per year. During his time on the school board, while attending college full time, brought about an increase in transparency and openness of all school district functions.
Back in first grade Student Council Josh learned that he can use his voice to lift the voice of other more vulnerable people. He was hooked on public service and has made public service his life’s work.
Josh’s dedication to community service began before he ran for the school board. In 2011, Josh became the Founder & CEO of Safe Ride Syosset, a community outreach program dedicated to ensuring that no Syosset teenager gets behind the wheel of a car while intoxicated, or is the passenger in a car with a drunk driver. Josh and his volunteers safely drove home over 350 students in 2012, and there was not a single teenage drinking and driving accident in Syosset on the nights Safe Ride was operating.
Josh believes that every veteran who served this nation in uniform should be cared for. In 2019, with bi-partisan support, Josh wrote and passed the “Dignity For Our Heroes” package into law, which was comprised of two bills aimed at eliminating veteran homelessness here in Nassau County. These bills added veterans as a protected class under the Nassau County Human Rights Law, and created the Nassau Commission on Ending Veteran Homelessness to build a transitional supportive housing facility for all veterans in need. Josh is most proud of having veterans stand with him after his “Dignity for Our Heroes” was passed into law. Veterans with tears in their eyes, told him how very proud they are of him.
Lafazan’s mission continues to be giving a voice to the vulnerable. Just last week he saw the “Food Allergy Restaurant Safety Law” passed. This law will help make our restaurants safer for the one in ten of us with life threatening food allergies.
Josh is not registered with any political party. He is known for his bi-partisan work. He says, “Potholes are not partisan.”
Josh and his team have raised $150,000 and knocked on over 25,000 doors. Constituents are surprised to have their legislator show up at their front door and ask them what they need him to do for them. Through this, Josh has learned that the top local issues include substance abuse and protection for veterans and disabled people.
This past summer over 70 young people from ages 12 through 20 joined Josh’s intern program, where they work along side retirees, and adults of all ages on the campaign trail. Josh believes strongly in empowering our young people. He has a rule that everyone have an assigned task for which they are held accountable. “No one gets coffee here.” It is important that people leave his intern program with professional real world experience.