The fight for a legislative seat in District 18 continues between incumbent Josh Lafazan, who is not a member of any political party, and Timothy Jenks, a republican. Both say they are committed to working towards enacting into law policies that will benefit their constituents and Nassau County as a whole. We asked the two candidates a few questions to help voters decide who to select when going to the polls on Nov. 5.
Herald Guardian: The price of living in Nassau County has continued to rise, propagating the young and senior citizens to leave. Additionally, it is causing an increase in homelessness. What can you do in as a legislator to change this pattern?
Josh Lafazan: As a millennial Long Islander, my generation is uniquely familiar with the high real state tax burden, as it remains a massive inhibitor towards youth home ownership. Quite frankly, I am tired of seeing my generation flee Long Island and am frustrated to see so many of our grandparents and seniors forced out of Nassau too. As school taxes make up the majority of a homeowner’s property tax burden, we must continue to pressure school districts to share services and raise revenue outside of the tax base. When I was a Syosset School Board Trustee, I was able to help deliver the lowest property tax increase in 25 years through prudent spending and creative solutions to fix the issues at hand. Secondly, governments everywhere must take a hard look at wasteful spending. From politicians sending taxpayer-funded mailers that are essentially campaign materials, to representatives who continue to spend money putting their names on signs, buildings, and show-mobiles, to elected officials kicking the can down the road as opposed to making the tough decisions now, my generation is frustrated with inaction taking precedence over pragmatism.
Timothy Jenks: As a young person currently looking for a home in Nassau County, I can certainly see the increase in the cost of living and how it has affected multiple generations. I believe that Laura Curran’s veto of the proposed assessment bill of rights, as well as her veto of the bill proposing an elected county tax assessor, has only hindered the transparency that taxpayers in Nassau County deserve. As a legislator, I hope to propose bills that would bring transparency to the taxpayers and keep residents from leaving Nassau County.
Herald Guardian: Studies have indicated that Long Island’s drinking water is the most contaminated in New York state. What will you do to help treat our water and make it safer for human consumption?
Josh Lafazan: Protecting our aquifers should be at top of every elected official’s priority list. There is no Plan B for our drinking water. That is why I was proud to oppose Governor Cuomo’s proposed cross-sound tunnel. Its construction would potentially contaminate our aquifers. We need to continue to be vocal in our opposition to projects that have the potential to harm our aquifers, even if it is politically unpopular to do so. Secondly, New York state needs to continue to be aggressive in banning dangerous pesticides and fertilizers on the market. Nassau doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and whatever Suffolk does affects us as well. That’s why these measures must not be taken just on the county level, but on the state level as a whole. Lastly, I strongly support Suffolk County’s efforts to replace inefficient septic tanks. I believe homeowners should be entitled to grants and loans from the county government to fix leaking septic tanks and will urge our state representatives to supplement such incentives with grants from the state.
Timothy Jenks: I recently spoke with the commissioner of the Jericho Water District who informed me that new water filters are currently being put into place. I plan to ensure that such measures are taken to both replace filters and consistently test our drinking water in both the American Water District and Jericho, so that it is safe for our residents.
Herald Guardian: As politics are increasingly polarized, how can you reach across the aisle to create bipartisan support for a bill to make sure it doesn’t just die in the legislature?
Josh Lafazan: As a registered independent, I was able to pass a record 10 bills into law, all of which achieved unanimous, bi-partisan support. The reason I was able to accomplish this is due to my ability to work across the aisle. I believe that my colleagues appreciate my earnestness in wanting to write important public policies, and my preparedness on the issues. Moreover, I’m not afraid to work with both parties in order to get things done. I was proud to work with a Republican legislator, Laura Schaefer, on my substance abuse bills, and a Democratic legislator, Debra Mule, on my veterans’ bills. To me, the people should always be put above politics, and I hope to continue to showcase my commitment towards building consensus around important issues that matter to taxpayers. Quite frankly, as taxes continue to rise, as the cost of living goes up and as the government spends more and more each year, citizens are sick and tired of seeing their elected officials bicker and not work across the aisle. It’s time to get the government working again and I’m proud of my work on behalf of the people.
Timothy Jenks: Unfortunately, this can be a very difficult task. I believe that by confronting issues with a non-partisan approach, while keeping the interests of everyone in mind, would be the best way to gain support for a bill across the aisle.
Herald Guardian: As a legislator, what can you do to get the word out about the dangers of vaping?
Josh Lafazan: I have made fighting against the heroin and opioid epidemic my top legislative priority, and I have been perturbed by the recent news of young people dying from vaping-related illnesses. We of course need to do more to crack down on the illegal sale of vape products and we need to do a better job of educating our young people about the dangers of early addiction and health repercussion such as popcorn lung.
Timothy Jenks: This is a bit of a moot subject, as the governor recently banned flavored vaping in New York state. However, I believe that warnings should still be put into place for non-flavored vaping, as they were with tobacco. Additionally, higher penalties should be enforced against those who sell these products to minors.