Democrats Jones, Binder vie for 156th District nod

by Jeremy Gerrard, Daily Local News, 4/17/12


Two candidates are vying to win the Democratic primary for the 156th District state House seat.

Cassandra Jones or Bret Binder will emerge April 25 to challenge incumbent state Rep. Dan Truitt, R-156th of East Goshen, in November.

Binder said his campaign is focused primarily on education, the environment and the economy. He opposes the proposed budget cuts to education and said other areas need to be addressed first.

As to the environment, Binder said the state must do a better job of controlling areas such as Marcellus Shale natural gas extraction.

“Texas and West Virginia tax around 5 to 6 percent, and they’re not considered to be unfriendly to big gas and oil,” Binder said. “We can certainly charge at least that amount or more.”

From the revenue raised through this tax, Binder said, he would give some to education and save the rest in a reserve fund.

Jones said her primary goal is restoring funding to education.

“I just think we are so off balanced and when you start to connect the dots from education to jobs or education to prison or education to poverty, it just doesn’t make sense to cut funding in those areas,” Jones said. “And if we’re going to cut funding, we better have a good plan on how we’re going to streamline our education process.”

Jones said her proven track record, experiences and involvement set her apart as a candidate.

As a borough councilwoman, Jones said, she has helped close a $1 million budget gap and build a $12 million parking garage. She said she has helped raise voter turnout and registration in the east part of the borough 40 percent.

Jones said she has voted in favor of the people most of the time and never for anything that would be a detriment to the community. Jones said she also prides herself in being a person who cares about the welfare of all people.

“When people know that you care, then they’ll listen to you because they care about what you know,” Jones said.

Binder said he first became interested in running from his time spent clerking Pennsylvania Supreme Court. There he would become frustrated at how unconstitutional and poorly drafted some of the laws were. He then decided he would like to actually be a part of writing the law better.

This legal background is what he says sets him apart from the other candidates and even the state house.

“I really do care about this, I have a true passion for it and I believe I can do better for Pennsylvanians,” Binder said. “I’ve been willing to put in the time, I love going out and knocking on doors.”

Binder, 33, grew up in Lower Merion and is a resident of East Bradford. He attended the University of Pennsylvania, where he majored in economics and went to Villanova Law School. He clerked for a few years with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and now has his own law practice in East Bradford. He also partly owns a desert shop in Havertown and a bowling alley in Philadelphia.

Jones, 55, has lived in the West Chester Borough since 1999 and has two daughters. She is serving her fifth year on Borough Council and her first as council vice president. She has worked for Cheyney University for the past seven years as a project manager and program director. Jones has also held positions in government that include involvement in the National League of Cities, the Human Development Committee and the National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials.