Josh Lafazan had an impressive resume before he became the youngest ever to serve on the Nassau County Legislature. He began his first term at 23 years old with a master’s from Harvard and a bachelor’s from Cornell, and, at 18, he had already been the youngest ever to be elected as a Board of Education trustee in the Syosset School District. As a freshman legislator, he has accomplished a great deal by working across the aisle to pass 10 bills and has made a commitment to help those with disabilities and veterans, as well as to be a leader in the fight against opioid addiction.
Unaffiliated with any party, Lafazan caucuses with the Democrats, but he said he has close friends among Republican legislators. He, for example, worked on his food allergy bill with Legislator Howard Kopel, he said.
Lafazan said that “simply being kind to someone has been my biggest asset,” adding that it’s more important that a bill pass, even if his name is taken off it. He stressed that he has never — and will never — malign a colleague. If only that were true for every politician.
Lafazan hit the ground running nearly two years ago, holding his first news conference 11 days after being sworn in to announce bipartisan proposals to combat the heroin and opioid epidemic. He introduced a five-point plan, most of which became law. It included a 24-hour crisis addiction hotline, which will begin Jan. 1. The county has expanded its Narcan training, and there is now a Nassau Cares App. With it, addicts can punch in their zip codes to be given directions to the nearest treatment centers. The app also assists family members of addicts to provide them with information on where they can get help.
Other initiatives followed. Lafazan passed legislation to make it safer for people with food allergies to eat in restaurants. At least two employees at all eateries now receive food allergy training from the Nassau County Department of Health, and it’s required that signs be posted that inform diners of their rights to alert the staff of their allergies
Lafazan sees himself as a crusader for vulnerable groups and said he is committed to those who are left behind. As someone who supports the hearing impaired and deaf, Lafazan passed a bill that requires a sign language interpreter to be present at county emergency news conferences. Another of his bills led the county to create the website NassauStopBullying.org. It alerts families and educators about the warning signs of bullying and students' rights if they are victims. And he has worked tirelessly to help homeless veterans.
Lafazan is the youth voice that is too often missing. We desperately need someone like him in county government.
With so many accomplishments, we were surprised when he said he spent much of his first term learning how government works. Undeterred, he said he made sure that he fully understood every issue before voting on a bill.
Republican Timothy Jenks told us that he was unavailable for an endorsement interview because he works 60 hours a week. We wonder how he would have the time to be a legislator. We strongly encourage you to vote for Lafazan on Nov. 5.