Jess King rallies voters

By on August 29, 2018

As part of her vigorous campaign to unseat Republican Lloyd Smucker from his job as representative for Pennsylvania’s 11th Congressional district, Jess King held a rally last Friday night at Akron’s Lloyd Roland Memorial Park.

She had a band, the New District Flippers; a troubadour, Hannah Bingman-Forshey; and about 200 enthusiastic supporters sitting in lawn chairs, lounging on blankets, and just walking around.
A self-described progressive Mennonite, she stressed a message that faith is the foundation of her political goals. King told the crowd she thinks America should work for everybody.

A resident of Lancaster city, she noted that half her neighbors live in poverty.

“What I learned growing up Mennonite was that the Bible hinges on one verse: ‘you love God and you love your neighbor as yourself’,” said King. “If my neighbors aren’t doing well, I’m not doing well. My family isn’t doing well.”

The importance of a social safety net impacted King’s life in a monumental way when she was only two years old. Her father died in an airplane crash when he was just 32 years old. With the help of Social Security survivor benefits, her mother was able to stay at home to raise the couple’s young children. King told her audience that programs like Social Security and Medicare should be expanded, not contracted. She reiterated the points she and her supporters have been getting out by knocking on doors and making phone calls.

Democrat Jess King addressed an enthusiastic crowd of about 200 people at a Friday night campaign rally at Akron’s Lloyd Roland Memorial Park.

She wants healthcare for all. She wants people to be able to graduate from public colleges without incurring a mountain of debt. She wants corporate money and Wall Street out of politics. She touched on income inequality, calling the U.S. the most unequal of all the developed countries. She was proud of her home church in Leola, when the congregation helped resettle refugees from other countries in the 1980s. She believes the rest of the country should follow Lancaster County’s example in accepting refugees and immigrants.


The candidate said she hopes to present ideas and policies that people can vote for, rather than against. How did King’s message resonate with her listeners on the grassy hill? We asked a few them. Alex Katos is a physician assistant at the WellSpan Ephrata Community Hospital, lives in Lititz, and was there with his wife, a teacher who prefers to keep her politics private. Not so Katos, who is an unabashed King supporter.

“The 2016 election was a wake-up call for the country,” he said. “I like Jess’s positively and her passion for making the country work for everybody.”

He likes her Mennonite background, believes she’ll have the support of the county’s conservative community, and that with her disavowal of party labels, she’ll be able to reach across the aisle to work with Republicans.

“She’s more about unification than division,” Katos said.

The most relaxed guy at Jess King’s rally was Lancaster resident Jonathan Forshey, whose wife is Hannah Bingman-Forshey, a vocalist/guitarist who performed at the rally. Forshey is a chef and food buyer for Whole Foods in Lancaster, and likes Jess King’s message.

By far King’s most relaxed supporter at the Akron rally was Jonathan Forshey, a chef and food buyer for Lancaster’s Whole Foods store. He was there with his wife, Hannah Binman-Forshey, who sang and played guitar for a set of folksy tunes. Forshey said he pretty much likes all of King’s campaign points. John Ebersole, an Akron resident, sat alone about halfway up the hill, not because, as a registered Republican, he wanted to separate himself from the Democrats down the hill, but because he found a flat spot to park his lawn chair.

“We need representatives like Jess to get corporate money and big donors out of politics,” Ebersole said. “Our current Representative takes outside money, and he doesn’t go out and talk to people.

“I think it’s important who we elect.”

Dick Wanner is a staff writer and photographer, and former editor-in-chief (1972-75), for the Record Express. He welcomes reader feedback at 


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