As the youngest-ever Nassau County legislator, Joshua Lafazan (D-Syosset) has already been hard at work in his first two weeks in office.
During his inauguration ceremony at Jericho High School Tuesday, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said she had already seen Lafazan working with the Heroin Prevention Task Force, which was one of the main issues of Lafazan’s campaign.
Lafazan said during his two-year term he wants to help Nassau County become “the battleground in the fight against addiction.”
“When it comes to addiction, we need to fully reimagine our system of treatment with end-to-end care,” Lafazan said. “In a world where with the tap of a button on your iPhone, you can order a cheeseburger or a flat-screen television or an actual Uber driver to your door, how is it reasonable to expect a person in the throes of a horrible disease to do extensive research, hop on the phone and search for treatment availability which scarcely exists?
“This entire system needs to be overhauled, and that’s why I believe we need a single 24-hour assessment center where individuals can show up for immediate screening, intervention and referral to treatment.”
Lafazan said he will also work to increase the number of beds available in treatment centers across Nassau County as well as developing a 24-hour hotline, similar to the one in Suffolk County, so those suffering from addiction or their loves ones can call for help.
Lafazan defeated incumbent Donald MacKenzie with 55.9 percent of the 14,436 votes in District 18, which 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.
Lafazan, who also ran on a platform of curbing corruption in the county, said he plans to make ethics and transparency a priority in Mineola and seeks to add term limits for public officials as well as fix “the broken and corrupt property tax assessment system.”
Lafazan was sworn in by New York Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, who was the youngest public official in state history before Lafazan was elected to the Syosset Board of Education during his senior year in 2012.
“In some ways, you rose like a rocket, and I use that expression deliberately,” DiNapoli said of Lafazan during the ceremony. “There was a fellow who lived not too far from here in Oyster Bay, and when he was elected at age 24 to the state Assembly, he wrote back to some of his family members that ‘I rose like a rocket in Albany.’ He shortly became the Republican leader of the Assembly, a fellow by the name of Teddy Roosevelt.
“You have that Roosevelt spirit, that Oyster Bay spirit, and I know that’s what you’re going to bring to your service on the Nassau County Legislature.”
Lafazan was also joined onstage during the swearing-in ceremony by his 15-year-old brother, Aaron Lafazan. Others who spoke included Nassau County Comptroller Jack Schnirman, Democratic national committeeman Robert Zimmerman, former Congressman Steve Israel, state Assemblyman Charles Lavine, Suffolk County Legislator Steve Stern, attorney David Schwartz and Village of Brookville Mayor Dan Serota.
While many people have expressed concern about Lafazan’s age, Curran said she had faith in his abilities despite his only being 23 years old.
“[Lafazan] started off on the school board, and as Comptroller DiNapoli can tell you, that is the best training for any kind of elected office,” Curran said. “It’s very grass roots. You deal with angry people at the grocery store and when you’re pumping your gas, and you’re dealing with really serious issues: children, education and multimillion-dollar budgets.
“Josh has done it, and he’s done it extremely well. Take that to the Legislature, and you cannot go wrong.”