Milo Knutson: The Man and the Myth
Anderson, James L.
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Milo Knutson came to LaCrosse in 1917 and established himself as a news broadcaster. Prior to his arrival he had never held either an elective or appointed public position. Yet, he eventually sought and won the mayoralty of LaCrosse, an office he maintained from 1955 to 1965. His rise in local popularity can be attributed to several personal and community factors. Knutson's dynamic personality, oratorical skills, and political opportunism were his most important public assets. The James Christie Case, the Evelyn Hartley Case, conflict among some community leaders, and the conservative temper of LaCrosse Citizens provided a receptive social and political climate for an ambitious person, such as Milo Knutson, who held conservative views. As a candidate in the 1955 election, Milo Knutson accused community leaders of incompetence. Subsequently, he made political pledges to correct what he considered to be existing abuses within the city. Apparently anticipating reforms, the majority of the community supported Knutson. But the new mayor found himself in the same political situation, that, as a candidate, he had accused his predecesors of occupying. Knutson failed to fulfill his political pledges to reform the police department and to reconstruct city government. Once in office, he exhibited the same weaknesses he had denounced in his predecessors. The issue of public education became an effective "tool" which Knutson manipulated for his popular and political gain. Throughout his administration, his critics charged that public education regressed because of insufficient money, too few teachers, and inadequate school facilities. The author concludes that Milo Knutson, seeking a public career, took advantage of a timely series of events to win election as mayor of LaCrosse. His administration was, however, a general failure in terms of his ability to fulfill important campaign promises and in terms of his support for important institutions within the community.
Knutson, Milo G., 1917-
La Crosse (Wis.) -- Politics and government
Mayors -- Wisconsin -- La Crosse