Danene Sorace and Jess King

Mayor Danene Sorace, left, and Jess King meet in Sorace's City Hall office on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2019. 

Former nonprofit leader and recent Congressional candidate Jess King will be Lancaster Mayor Danene Sorace’s new chief of staff.

“I feel really good about stepping into this role,” King said.

Sorace said she and King quickly realized they shared a set of core values. 

She said the chief of staff’s role will be “rebooted” and modified to take advantage of King’s background and expertise in affordable housing, economic development and related issues.

King succeeds Matt Johnson, who resigned at the end of 2018, due to pressing family matters.

Johnson praised King enthusiastically and said he’s “thrilled” she’s joining Sorace’s administration.

Her first day will be March 18, a few days before she turns 45. Her salary will be $95,000.

Left nonprofit to run for Congress

King is a 12th generation native of Lancaster County. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Eastern Mennonite University and an MBA from Bard College.

She lives with her husband in the city’s southeast; they have two daughters.

From 2010 to 2017, she ran Assets, a local nonprofit focused on economic development and entrepreneurship. She served on the city redevelopment authority and the Mayor’s Commission to Combat Poverty.

She left Assets to run for Congress on the Democratic ticket against incumbent Lloyd Smucker, a Republican seeking his second term.

King raised more money and built a larger field organization than any previous Lancaster Democrat. Nevertheless, Smucker prevailed by a wide margin in the strongly Republican 11th District, comprising Lancaster County and southern York County.

Since the campaign, King said she’s been engaging in “rest and reflection” and spending time with her family.

Sorace said King was the first candidate she called after learning Johnson was planning to step aside.

Others expressed interest in the job, but “I didn’t interview anyone else,” she said.

King said the more she thought about it, “the more I was ready to jump in.” The prospect appealed to her sense of civic duty, she said.

“It’s a unique role,” she said. “There’s a real opportunity to step up and serve.”