Josh Lafazan. Tuck that name away for a rainy day because I can promise you this is not the last time you will hear it. Who is he? Just the youngest elected official in New York state. In a landslide vote, he landed a spot on the Syosset school board last night. Lafazan is combating the superintendant’s more than $500,000/year pay package and saving the world one day at a time. Okay slight exaggeration… right now it’s one town on Long Island. But hey, it’s a start. Oh yeah, did I mention he doesn’t even have his high school diploma yet?
That’s right, skeptics. There is hope for America’s youth. Listen to this high-school senior for more than thirty seconds and you won’t care if he passed coloring in kindergarten. He has a stronger grasp on reality than a newborn baby has on a pacifier, and voters took notice. In a record turnout, Lafazan tallied 4,739 votes, winning by a margin of more than 2,000.
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It did not come easy. Ahead of the election, Lafazan’s father was accused of stealing records from the school in what Josh calls “a last-minute Hail-Mary thrown by the school district administration.” Well hold up the Lombardi Trophy Josh, this game goes to you. Can I get an Amen?
Now let’s pump the breaks for just a second. Yes, it is amazing that after six years of uncontested elections Syosset superintendant Carole Hankin might have met her match in a teenager. But there is a bigger picture here: the ability of a community, town, state or country to take action when necessary and make a change. Take a look around. With our country drowning in a sea of red ink and empty promises from politicians on both sides, it has to start somewhere. For the town of Syosset, it started with a high-school class president.
I cannot tell you what the future will hold for Josh Lafazan, Carole Hankin or the rest of the school board. With the announcement of its $198 million 2012-13 budget, there is clearly a lot of work to be done. Wednesday on Varney & Co., democratic strategist Doug Schoen offered Josh the following advice: “Stay close to home, stay close to your constituents, keep fighting, never give up your principles, don’t sell out.”
That’s easier said than done. But if Josh can, Syosset might just have a fighting chance. The rest of us too.