Binder tops Jones in 156th Democratic primary

by Jeremy Gerrard, Daily Local News, 4/25/12

In a close primary, Bret Binder emerged as the nominated Democratic candidate for the 156th state representative district.

The 156th district is comprised of East Goshen, East Bradford, West Goshen and the West Chester Borough.

Binder defeated Cassandra Jones in the primary Tuesday by a tally of 1,251 votes to 1,114 for Jones.

The results are unofficial until certified by the Board of Elections.

“I’m thrilled,” Binder said. “It was a close race and I’m honored to represent the people of Chester County.”

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 dessert shop in Havertown and a bowling alley in Philadelphia.

“People are ready for change and I think I can be that change,” Binder said.

Binder’s campaign focused primarily on three big issues: education, the environment and the economy. He opposes the proposed budget cuts to education and said other areas must be looked into first.

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

Binder advocates a tax on the Marcellus Shale. Through the tax, the money raised could be given to education and the rest would be in a reserve fund.

Voter turnout in the district was described as low by both Republican and Democratic committeepersons. Democratic voters outnumbered Republicans in the borough almost 3 to 1 by some accounts, though East Goshen reported an opposite ratio.

Some pointed to the weather as a potential deterrent, though most chalked it up to just being an “apathetic” voting year.

Both Binder and Jones had their supporters, though some voters in the borough were reticent to discuss their decision.

“That’s my little secret,” revealed one voter from the second ward in the borough.

On a whole, Jones carried the borough vote by almost 70 percent, though Binder was strong in the other municipalities.

Jones, 55, has lived in West Chester 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.

Binder said it was when he clerked with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court that he first became interested in running for office, having seen some the effects of poorly drafted legislation.

“I’m ready to take my skills, my passion, and my dedication to Harrisburg to do a better job,” Binder said.

Binder will now face incumbent state Rep. Dan Truitt, D-156th of East Goshen in the general election come November. Truitt won the Republican primary unopposed Tuesday.