Candidates lining up for 158th district seat

A Chester County lawmaker whose attempt to retire two years ago was thwarted will not seek re-election in 2016, and contenders are lining up for his seat.

Perry Bentley

Perry Bentley

State Rep. Chris Ross, R-185, announced his retirement in 2013, but he was persuaded by party leaders to return to the race in 2014 when Cuyler Walker, the GOP choice to replace him, abruptly withdrew his name at the 11th hour. Now, Ross says he’s really retiring, but he’s not ready to endorse a successor yet.

So far, three Republicans have announced their candidacy for the seat, which serves residents in East Bradford, East Marlborough, Newlin, London Britain, New Garden, West Bradford, West Goshen and West Marlborough townships and Avondale Borough. The Democrats said they plan to announce their candidate on Jan. 7.

Born and raised outside of Unionville, Perry Bentley works at Bentley Systems, an Exton-based engineering and architectural software company, which supports innovative education programs through grants to places like the Downingtown STEM Academy and promotes responsible corporate governance in a fast-growing global company. according to his press release.

“I can affirm, as you already know, that Chester County is a special place to live, work and raise a family,” said Bentley in the release.

“I purchased a home here in East Marlborough for those very reasons. We have strong communities, good public schools and an efficient local government that keeps our taxes low. I have decided to seek the nomination for state representative to defend the principles of free markets and small government from a governor and president with little understanding of either.”

Bentley stressed the importance of his time working at his family’s business, which in three decades has grown into one of the largest engineering and architectural software companies in the world.

Leonard Rivera

Leonard J. Rivera

Leonard J. Rivera, a Kennett Square lawyer, said his legal career has ranged from working in Harrisburg as a public defender, practicing at a major Chester County law firm, and setting up his own law firm, experience that would help him “make a difference in the district and the state and to represent the community values that are important to taxpayers, parents and voters,” his press release said.


“I look forward to being part of important legislative decisions that will impact the quality of life and education in the bucolic Brandywine Valley and the 158th District,” said Rivera in the release. “I have committed myself to the community, its resources, and will represent a collective and constructive community voice in Harrisburg. “

Rivera, a graduate of Ursinus College and Dickinson School of Law, serves on the Chester Water Authority and is the longest serving board member of La Comunidad Hispana. He is a Paul Harris Fellow with the Longwood Rotary, and is currently vice president. He also coaches the Kennett High School Mock Trial Team and has previously served on the Kennett Education Foundation Board, Kennett YMCA Board, Kennett YMCA Capital Campaign and coached area youth basketball and soccer teams.

Eric M. Roe

Eric M. Roe

Eric Roe, currently the administrative analyst for Chester County Commissioner Michelle Kichline, said he wants to continue the excellence GOP governance in Chester County, which has been recognized by Moody’s Investor Service as “one of the Top 24 Best-Managed Counties in America” and by as “One of the Top 10 Places in the Country to Raise a Family,” his press release said.

Roe, who grew up in East and West Bradford townships, served on the Republican National Committee in Washington from 2009 to 2011. He was special assistant at former DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff’s homeland security consulting firm, and he helped run the regional CPAC events for the American Conservative Union.

Roe holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from American University and a master’s degree in public policy from University College London. His volunteer work includes being a board member of the Domestic Violence Center of Chester County and teaching a naturalization class for aspiring citizens in Kennett Square, his release said.

“My legislative priorities are in line with the unalienable rights found in the Declaration of Independence: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” he said in the release. “It is important for us to defend the defenseless, including the unborn.  Stopping higher taxes from eroding our freedoms is a high priority.”

Chester County Republicans will meet on Jan. 28 to endorses candidates for the primary, said Val DiGiorgio, the GOP county chairman.


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