He’s the affable youngest member ever of the Nassau County Legislature known for introducing quality-of-life bills that often become law. Just short of his 30th birthday, Josh Lafazan is running for his third term in Mineola — but his first time as a Democrat.
A Harvard and Cornell graduate, Lafazan was independent until last December. That lack of affiliation is something he attributes in his success in passing bills while working across the aisle with Republicans.
In fact, it is his proudest accomplishment.
“Government is so polarized, and partisanship has grinded government to a halt on so many different levels,” Lafazan told reporters as part of a recent Herald Roundtable session. “I think that focusing on issues that can bridge the community together is how I am able to get things done.
“Everyone has veterans in their district who we revere and want to take care of. Everyone has somebody who they know suffering from substance abuse. Everyone we know has somebody in their family with a disability who needs help. So I’ve been able to find these issues to bring people together.”
There may be another reason why bipartisanship is alive at the legislature: At least according to Lafazan, Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman is unpopular among the lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.
“There was never, ever this antipathy towards the executive,” Lafazan said. “We’re working better together behind the scenes.”
Some have complained Lafazan himself spends too much time holding news conferences attacking embattled U.S. Rep. George Santos in a congressional seat Lafazan himself had run for. Lafazan was the first elected leader to gather reporters decrying Santos soon after The New York Times published a story accusing the congressman of major fabrications, including his professional background, educational history, where he worked, his college graduation, and property ownership.
Santos has since faced a number of criminal charges related to his campaign financing, but still remains a member of Congress.
“It’s a disingenuous argument,” Lafazan said. “In the weeks and months since my December press conference, I helped lead the fight to ensure that we had accountability here. The community cared that our member of Congress was a liar and a fraud, and they looked to me as their legislator to do my job to help to hold him accountable. So, I was doing my job.”
People should look at his record, Lafazan countered, adding he has passed more bills than anyone at the legislature, provides more constituent services than anyone else, and works with his constituents individually as well.
“My record and my office’s record of actually getting the work done speaks for itself,” he said. “I joke that having no life is a wonderful tool to get extra work done. This is what I love to do.”
Lafazan has focused much of his attention on veterans, introducing a bill last May to provide housing, employment and freedom from discrimination to the men and women Lafazan calls “heroes.”
“I want to have transitional housing built for veterans, pipeline veterans into union jobs, and wave the examination fees,” he said. “We’re going to make sure discrimination against veterans and housing is eliminated, and put them within the human rights law.”
Lafazan also supports term limits and mandatory background checks for politicians, which he said people are shocked isn’t already required.
“I support barring someone with an open federal arrest warrant from running for office and making it a misdemeanor to lie about your age, or your education, or your address, or your income sources,” Lafazan said. “These are all things in the wake of George Santos that we should be doing, and it’s been frustrating that we haven’t been able to get movement.”