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Joshua Lafazan

Age

18

Location

Nassau Community College

Twitter

@JoshuaLafazan

Few high schoolers care what a school board is, let alone want to be on one. Yet high school senior Joshua Lafazan managed to run for and win a seat on his in May despite a smear campaign mounted against him by the school board.
Lafazan ended up winning the New York’s Syosset school district school board election with 82% of the vote, making him the youngest elected official in the state of New York.“The people of Syosset were saturated with frustration at the lack of transparency, at the lack of accountability, at the fact that you couldn’t ask a question at the school board meetings that wasn’t pre-authorized by the school board,” he said of his decision to run for office.

Lafazan, 18, says Americans need to be more aware of local politics because “that is where the power is most densely concentrated, so that is where the people need to be the most involved.”

“You don’t have to run to get involved,” he said. “Go door-to-door, hand out flyers, pass out literature, knock on doors, talk to people… I owe my victory to the people who got involved and helped me.”

Lafazan said he sees bipartisanship as “the inevitable future of this country.” That may sound naively optimistic, but “the message of transparency, openness and accountability is not a message that just pertains to one area,” he says.

Once we support candidates who “make everything inclusive rather than [maintaining] the exclusive culture” he says average Americans can take back the political landscape, no matter how slim the odds.

Thirty Under Thirty 2012

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