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Josh Lafazan '16

Long Island Victory

Winning by a margin of 55 to 44 to unseat an incumbent, Josh Lafazan ’16 was elected Nov. 7 to become the youngest member of Long Island’s Nassau County Legislature.

More than 8,000 voters cast their votes for an alum who has said his political career would not be possible without his ILR School education.

“My classes in unions, collective bargaining and organizational behavior helped me become a more educated board member, and I’m excited to have the opportunity to share that knowledge and, hopefully, bring a fresh perspective to the legislature,” he said in an interview last summer.

Lafazan is in his second term on the Syosset School Board, to which he was elected as an 18-year-old in 2012 while a senior at Syosset High School on Long Island. Earlier this year, he said he would stay on the board if elected to the legislature

While campaigning, Lafazan said he wants millennials have a voice in the county’s future.

“I am tired of seeing my generation priced out of the only place we have ever called home,” he said. “In Nassau County, people between 22 and 35 years old have two housing options: Mom and Dad’s basement or leaving the area. Many of my classmates have moved away.”

Two ILR students worked on Lafazan’s campaign. Josh Thomas ’20 served as communications director and Dustin Liu ’19 was a volunteer.

Lafazan started at Cornell in fall 2014 after earning an associate’s degree in liberal arts at Nassau Community College, an experience he praised in an April TED Talk.

In his two years at ILR, he commuted home to attend board meetings, energized by what he was learning at Cornell, he said. “The breadth of classes and the resources and quality of professors at ILR helped make me a more educated board member.”

After leaving Ithaca, Lafazan attended the Harvard University Graduate School of Education. He earned a master’s degree in education policy and management in May.

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