Joshua Lafazan was elected to the Syosset Central School District Board of Education before he graduated from high school.
Now, Lafazan (D-Syosset) is challenging incumbent Legislator Donald MacKenzie in Nassau County District 18. Since beginning his campaign, Lafazan said he has raised $90,000, knocked on 18,000 doors and has hired about 40 high school and college students.
“We think this is the year we can flip the 18th,” Lafazan said in an interview with Blank Slate Media.
District 18 includes 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.
Lafazan, 23, received his bachelor’s degree in industrial and labor relations from Cornell University in 2016 after two years at Nassau Community College and his master’s degree in education policy and management from Harvard University the following year.
Lafazan said the most important issue this campaign season is countywide corruption and said he would push for term limits and an independent redistricting commission if elected Tuesday.
“I think serving in government is a privilege and not a lifetime employment opportunity,” Lafazan said. “With term limits, I think people would have more courage to cross party lines and roll out ambitious legislation.”
Lafazan said he sees steps that could be taken immediately to cut expenses and shrink the county’s approximately $58 million deficit as estimated by the Nassau Interim Finance Authority. These include eliminating physical payroll checks, using solar panels and green energy and transferring some expenses from the county to other local municipalities, including school districts.
“We’re going to have to look, as NIFA proposed, at transfer of expenses because some expenses the county currently accrues it can’t afford, and other municipalities should have it in their wheelhouse,” Lafazan said. “The school districts should be on the hook for crossing guards for the schools. I believe these crossing guards are essential to community and student safety, but Nassau County shouldn’t be paying for it.”
Lafazan has been a member of the county’s Heroin Prevention Task Force for four years and is a board member of the Long Island Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence and said he sees the opioid epidemic as “the greatest natural disaster of our time.”
Lafazan said the county needs a 24-hour assessment center for families to bring someone as well as more funding for treatment centers so people are not denied services for inability to pay.
“As we know right now, someone in need will often seek out heroin or treatment, and whatever they get first is going to be the course of action,” Lafazan said. “We know addiction is a disease and not a choice, and people struggling with that disease should be able to get their help, regardless of the monetary position they’re in.”