|dc.description.abstract||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.||