Congressional candidate and Nassau County Legislator Josh Lafazan spoke on the need to remove guns from the street and discussed the need for police reform during a virtual interview with Blank Slate Media on Tuesday.
Lafazan, a Democratic candidate for the state’s 3rd Congressional District, stressed the need for universal background checks and a ban on assault weapons on the federal level during the interview.
Referencing recent mass shootings in Texas and Buffalo, the legislator said it is “outrageous” that someone is able to walk into a public place and kill humans with a weapon of war.
“It makes us all less safe,” Lafazan said. “So of course, I would be in favor of a ban on assault weapons.”
Over the past two years, legislation has been signed throughout Nassau County to enforce body cameras on police officers (along with an annual stipend to do so) and to evaluate how officers police their communities with a Lafazan-led Mental Health Response Bill.
The legislator said he is not a supporter of defunding the police but said there is “absolutely a need” for police reform and more diversity in policing by communities throughout the district and on a national level.
“We’re not doing a good enough job in this country to make sure that our police departments and the recruiting classes reflect the communities they serve,” he said. “So of course we need reforms. We need more training and we need it today.”
Bail reform is another issue Lafazan said he hopes can be remedied and that prior fixes to the state laws, enacted in 2020, have not been enough. Giving judicial discretion back to judges and ensuring that an individual who cannot afford a lawyer not be in jail longer than one who can are two aspects, he said, that need to be addressed.
“Taking away judicial discretion makes us less safe,” Lafazan said. “We need to reduce instances of repeat offenders, especially those who pose a public threat to make our communities safer.”
In previous elections, Lafazan ran as an independent who caucused with the Democrats. Lafazan has also run on the Conservative line, saying in previous interviews that he does so due to his Republican-controlled district.
Despite having run on the Conservative line, Lafazan reiterated he is “unequivocally pro-choice” and that countless amounts of elected officials receive endorsements from a variety of groups.
“When I get to Congress, I’ll codify Roe [v. Wade] into law, I’ll work to secure the data privacy of women who purchase abortion bills online, I’ll protect out-of-state doctors and providers who provide abortion services,” Lafazan said.
Lafazan has since re-enrolled as a Democrat for his congressional run. The legislator described himself in the interview as “a Democrat who represents a Trump district,” saying that 27% of registered voters throughout the county’s 18th legislative district.
When referencing last November’s elections, Lafazan said he believes that poor organization led to a majority of local Democrats losing to Republicans.
Lafazan defeated Republican challenger Paolo Pironi by hundreds of votes, crediting his victory to proper organization, adequate fundraising and working across the aisle and reach voters of all political backgrounds.
Lafazan stressed the importance of retaining Democratic representation in the 3rd Congressional District and that he is the sole candidate that is able to do so against Republican challenger George Santos.
“I’ve raised more money than the other candidates and am projected to win the primary, but I’m the candidate that can win the general,” Lafazan said. “We need a Democrat who can pull coalitions together and win in November. If we do not, we cannot keep the House. I’m the Democrat that can do that and I’m the best candidate running in the Democratic primary.”
At the age of 23, Lafazan became Nassau County’s youngest-ever legislator upon his election to the Nassau County Legislature in November 2017. Lafazan has received one of the biggest endorsements of the congressional race after he was lauded by incumbent U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) for being a “common-sense Democrat.”
“We need someone who has a proven record of getting things done, someone who will stand up to people who say they want to defund the police, someone who will use common sense to get things done on behalf of the people they serve,” Suozzi said in a video endorsement published by Lafazan’s campaign.
Suozzi is coming off a failed run in the gubernatorial primary, losing to Gov. Kathy Hochul in late June, and will not be running to retain his seat in Congress. New district maps were submitted recently by a court-appointed special master and have been viewed as more neutral compared to ones that were previously rejected by the state Appeals Court.
While the 3rd Congressional District under the new proposal does not extend as far west as the Bronx or Westchester, it does stretch to more southern parts of Nassau County such as Hicksville and Massapequa. The new lines do exclude the parts of the district that now stretch into Suffolk County, mainly Huntington and Smithtown.
Also running for the Democratic nomination in the district are Robert Zimmerman of Great Neck, Melanie D’Arrigo of Port Washington, Reema Rasool of Oyster Bay, state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi and former North Hempstead Supervisor Jon Kaiman of Great Neck.
A full recording of Lafazan’s interview with Blank Slate Media and interviews with other candidates in the congressional race can be found at: www.youtube.com/theisland360.