To all married women voters

[Submitted to the Daily Local and Inquirer newspapers on September 12, 2012]

Dear Editor:

As the Chair of the West Chester Democratic Committee, I have written to you on many issues, usually along political lines. Today, however, I write on behalf of all women in Pennsylvania. It has come to my attention that the Voter ID law is going to have a profound effect on married women in this Commonwealth. If a young woman applied for and received her voter registration card when she turned 18 (or shortly thereafter), got married later, and changed her driver’s license to her married name, she will be unable to vote in this year’s election unless she changes her registration by October 9. Most women don’t think to change the name on their voter registration card, and until this law was passed, it didn’t matter anyway. Now, it is a problem.

My advice to all married women is this: first, check to see if the name on your voter registration is identical to the one on your driver’s license (or whatever ID you will be using at the polls). If the last names do not match, the remedy is fairly simple. Go to Voter Services on Westtown Road, contact your local Committee Person, or go to either party’s campaign office to obtain a new registration card. Fill out the name change section and submit it in person, or by mail to Voter Services (attn: Jim Forsythe). You should receive a new voter registration card in less than a week.

Women who show up to the polls with a driver’s license that doesn’t match the name on their registration will have to vote by provisional ballot. These ballots will not be counted unless they return after the election with the proper documentation. Almost no one will do this if the presidential race is already decided, which means their votes for congressional and state races will be thrown out. The race for the president may be definitive enough that those votes won’t make a difference in the results. However, the state House race in the 156th was won by a mere 28 votes in 2006 and by about 200 votes in 2010. Therefore, these local elections can and will be affected by this law.

I hope that women in Pennsylvania are informed and get their registrations changed by October 9. Our democracy is counting on it.

Stephanie Markstein
Chair, West Chester Democratic Committee

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.

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.

Democrats appeal for 156th District nomination

by Jeremy Gerrard, Daily Local News, 4/16/12

Two hopefuls vying for the Democratic nomination for the state House 156th District seat squared off in a forum Sunday afternoon at borough hall.

Organized by the Chester County League of Women Voters, candidates Cassandra Jones and Bret Binder, both lifelong Democrats, took turns answering questions written by audience members.

Jones opened by highlighting the issues of education, jobs, health care and the environment, noting she believes the commonwealth can benefit from stronger policies in these matters.

“With my background in government, I believe I can deal with these issues immediately,” Jones said.

A borough resident, Jones just began her fifth year on Borough Council and serves as the council’s vice president.

Binder, who has a law firm in East Bradford in addition to having stakes in a bowling alley and dessert shops, said he understands the needs of small businesses and will focus on education and the environment. After law school, Binder clerked for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, where he said he first became interested in running for office after having seen 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,” he said.

A majority of the questions asked during the forum centered on education in the commonwealth. The candidates took turns responding to their opinions on vouchers, charter schools and budget cuts….

read more: Daily Local News