All eyes were on Ithaca on Sept. 26, 2006 as the two leading candidates for governor of New York fielded questions from a media panel during a spirited debate aired on live TV across the state. Former Governor Eliot L. Spitzer and former state assemblyman John J. Faso spelled out what they felt was wrong with New York and the directions they planned to take the state as governor.Spitzer, who had recently defeated Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi in the Democratic Party primary to claim his party’s nomination, led Faso by more than 50 percent at the time, according to a Siena Research Institute poll.In the Cornell debate, Spitzer focused his message on reforming and revitalizing the state government.“The status quo is not behind me; it’s in front of me, and I’ve got dead aim at it,” the candidate said.In response to one of the most biting questions of the evening, Faso criticized Spitzer for endorsing the re-election of State Comptroller Alan Hevesi, one of Spitzer’s Democratic allies. Recent revelations had shown that Hevesi illegally let his wife use a state worker as a chauffeur for more than three years.“[Hevesi is] an honest, stupendous public servant … What Alan did was wrong; he has apologized; he has paid back,” Spitzer said. “If anybody on my watch did that, trust me, there would be very serious consequences.”Tax cuts, gay marriage, the death penalty and healthcare were the major topics of the debate.Spitzer was elected governor that November, and during his time in office, he pledged funds to help clean up the once dilapidated Ithaca Gun Factory site just down the hill from Cornell’s campus.However, Spitzer’s days in office would prove limited, as he resigned from office in April of 2008 amidst charges that he was linked to a prostitution ring.
Original Author: Sun Staff