LI youth should consider a run for office

Legislator Josh Lafazan, at 23 years of age, became Nassau County’s youngest-ever legislator upon his election to the Nassau County Legislature in November of 2017. He is currently serving his first term, where he represents Nassau’s 18th Legislative District.

Since adolescence, it seemed that year after year in school, without fail, we would be inculcated with a consistent idiom: decisions are made by those who show up.

Yet for millennials on Long Island – members of the largest, most educated, and most diverse demographic in the history of the United States – too often we have not heeded this ancient maxim.

In 2012, at the age of 18, I was elected to the Syosset School Board of Education, becoming one of the youngest elected officials in New York State. Then in 2017, at the age of 23, I became Nassau County’s youngest-ever elected legislator when I won a seat on the Nassau County Legislature.

Each time, I was the youngest elected member of that body… by a decade or more. So I know first-hand just how important it is to have youth representation in government.

As a millennial elected official, I have passed resolutions requiring the distribution of voter registration forms to all high school seniors, created Nassau County’s first-ever online clearinghouse to fight back against bullying (NassauStopBullying.org), and established both a 24-hour hotline as well as a smartphone app to connect young people suffering from substance abuse with treatment professionals and resources.

I have lived the age-old phrase that decisions are made by those who show up, because my job in elected office is to show up for my constituents, and to show up for my generation.

Yet it’s time that our generation showed up en masse, and not just in elected office, but at the polls, at town halls, at school board meetings, and everywhere that government conducts its business. It’s time that millennials became a political force like the generations that have preceded us.

This January I will turn 25 – the best birthday present I could receive is to no longer be Long Island’s youngest elected legislator. And if you’re thinking about running for office, I look forward to seeing your name on the ballot!