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Suozzi, Faso worth listening to Different parties, but similar reform agendas that put Albany in their sights

Two determined young reformers who want to be governor, but won't win, are still well worth learning about. Someday, we hope, one might win, and then New Yorkers belatedly will as well.

They argue, both with first-hand government and management experience, for competition in elections via redistricting; reducing a local tax burden that's 72 percent above the national average; and cutting fraud and waste in obese state government programs.

They decry lack of business investment upstate; suffocating pay and work advantages negotiated by municipal unions; labor-favoring state laws; and a system in Albany that pits executive against Legislature while divvying up spoils from a $110 billion budget to keep getting both sides re-elected.

John J. Faso, a member of the Buffalo Fiscal Stability Authority, is an Albany-area, former Assembly minority leader who just missed election as state comptroller.

Thomas R. Suozzi was just re-elected to a second term as Nassau County executive. His turnaround of that Long Island metropolis -- its $2.4 billion budget ranks it well ahead of many states -- is nothing short of exemplary. If Erie County could trade for him, it would.

The first is a Republican, the second a Democrat. Suozzi calls himself "a new kind of old-fashioned Democrat." Faso might describe himself the same way, only substituting Republican or Conservative. Both men are smart, professional, engaging and carry positive messages. Both have track records -- Faso won Erie County by 30,000 votes in almost beating Comptroller Alan G. Hevesi statewide -- and ideas and records to make Western New Yorkers swoon.

Suozzi, 43, took over a county with far more wealth than Erie County and larger problems. He says he cut the work force to its leanest level in 30 years, saved $100 million through management reforms, dramatically reduced borrowing and interest payments and raised property taxes once with a promise he kept not to do so the next three years of his first term. The moderate Catholic -- Italian father, Irish mother, Polish wife, he says -- defied expectations and is seen as a rising political star. How unorthodox is he? In 2004 he targeted for replacement one Republican and one fellow Democrat in the State Legislature so his region could be better represented in Albany. Said Newsday: "It's delightful to see a pol with some guts for a change."

Faso, 53, grew up on Long Island, graduated from Brockport State, lives in Columbia County and knows Buffalo Niagara. He's helping Buffalo find fiscal balance. He lived Albany on the inside and holds his nose about its ills. He seeks the same reforms, promising as Suozzi does, to take his appeal over the heads of the entrenched politicians directly to the people.

Either man, if he can actually win and still bring to fruition reforms both preach, would help craft a new New York. Both also may run primaries for governor this September against endorsed candidates in their parties, maintaining as they do that competition is the first reform they need to trigger.

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