Legislator Lafazan runs for re-election, advocating for housing, climate change

Legislator Lafazan runs for re-election, advocating for housing, climate change
Nassau County Legislator Joshua Lafazan (D-Woodbury). (Photo courtesy of the Nassau County Legislative Office)

Nassau County Legislator Joshua Lafazan (D–Woodbury) is running for re-election under what he considers fair campaign tactics, pushing for increased housing, carbon neutrality in the county government and addressing climate change.

Lafazan, a Democrat, represents the county’s District 18 and became the county’s youngest legislator at the age of 23 when he was elected in 2017. He is running for his fourth term.

He represents the district that includes Williston Park, Manhasset Hills, Albertson, Searingtown, East Hills, Greenvale, Old Brookville, Glen Head, Upper Brookville, Matinecock, Centre Island, Bayville, Mill Neck, Oyster Bay, Cove Neck and Laurel Hollow.

His district has changed, though, with the county’s latest redistricted maps. No longer does he represent communities like Syosset, his hometown, and Woodbury.

“The Republicans drew a map that’s an egregious gerrymander,” Lafazan told Blank Slate Media.

He said this was done through the county’s new maps that put him and Legislator Arnold Drucker (D–Plainview) into the same district, like other Democrats drawn out of their district.

“Yet, ironically, not one Republican was drawn out of their district,” Lafazan said. “This was an attempt to put two Democrats into the same district to chip away at the Democratic caucus.”

He said he supports the lawsuit that is challenging the new district maps and believes it will be overturned next year.

Lafazan is also running for New York’s Third Congressional District, which is currently represented by the embattled Rep. George Santos.

Santos was charged in a 13-count indictment in May that included seven counts of wire fraud, three counts of money laundering, one count of theft of public funds, and two counts of making materially false statements to the House of Representatives. He pleaded not guilty to all charges. If convicted of the top charges, Santos could face up to 20 years in prison.

Scrutiny of Santos began in December when a New York Times article revealed the web of lies he had spun during his campaign.

Lafazan said he began campaign fund-raising in January to oust Santos after he became the target of major backlash, but paused in April when it was apparent that Santos was not planning to leave his seat. He is still in the race for the 2024 election.

He said Santos is “delusional and defiant” and won’t take a plea deal to get out of the indictment and will likely finish his current term.

Vying for two seats, one in Congress and another in the county legislature, Lafazan said many constituents have expressed enthusiasm over his two campaigns.

“There’s a lot of excitement because people want Santos gone and they want somebody who can beat him,” Lafazan said. “And I believe I’m the guy.”

Lafazan has previously been endorsed by the Conservative Party, but said he did not seek the endorsement in this election cycle as he is running for federal office. He said at the federal level, his politics do not align with the Conservative Party.

He said he previously accepted the endorsement as he tries to be a nonpartisan local legislator and the party’s national issues did not affect his decisions as a county legislator.

Lafazan said when he met with the local party, its two biggest issues were taxes and substance abuse, which Lafazan said he stood “united” with them in addressing.

The legislator has been the subject of many political mailers sent out by the New York Republican State Committee, making a slew of claims that he denied.

He said that he is looking into a lawsuit against the state’s Republican Party and the North Shore Leader, a local newspaper that he said is “intentionally defaming” him and “misleading voters.”

“We can’t run campaigns like this,” Lafazan said. “We have to be better than this.”

With New York State pushing for an increase in housing, Lafazan said that while he disagrees with the former plan from Gov. Kathy Hochul to override local zoning laws to boost the housing stock, it is an issue that needs to be addressed.

He advocated for “cool downtowns,” an idea former County Executive Tom Suozzi pushed in the early 2000s to bolster the building of homes within what is reasonable for a community.

But with decades of restrictive zoning and lack of housing initiatives, Lafazan said what can help is electing a newer generation of individuals to replace elected officials who are “stale and not forward thinking.”

As for the county’s frozen reassessment process, Lafazan said a more pragmatic solution would be to shift the responsibilities to the towns. He said this has been a bipartisan idea.

“My belief is that the county has proved over the past couple of decades that we cannot accurately assess at scale and, like other municipalities, I think the only way forward to accurate reassessment is if we move assessment to the towns on a more local level,” Lafazan said.

Lafazan said he has also advocated for Nassau County government to be carbon neutral. He said this is directed toward the county’s municipal operations, not individuals.

“Which, by the way, won’t just protect the environment but it’s going to save us a fortune,” Lafazan said.

Lafazan has presented a bill, which he said has been stalled, to create a task force to push the county toward carbon neutrality by 2035.

As for the county’s preparedness for climate change, Lafazan said Nassau “is far behind and it’s scary,”

Lafazan said there are infrastructure needs to address increased heavy rainstorms, electrical grid resiliency, emergency response protocols and sewer leakages.

“There is significant work to be done here in terms of preparedness for extreme weather where we have hundred-year storms happening every single year,” Lafazan said. “We’re far behind.”

He said the county has federal money for COVID-19 relief, approximately $239 million, that can go toward some of these projects that the county has no plan to use yet, with just until the end of the year remaining to distribute it.

“We have to be far more pragmatic and far more urgent in terms of our infrastructure and our residents in disaster-prone communities,” Lafazan said.

Lafazan said voters should re-elect him because he delivers to the constituents on the issues that they care about, whether it is veterans, people with disabilities, underserved communities or public safety.

“I say this with confidence and with respect for my colleagues, but we’ve got more done in my legislative office, and I challenge any other legislator to put their record up to me to show that they’ve delivered more for their constituents,” Lafazan said.

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