Let's not cavil today. Let's say goodbye to a Frank Zeidler, the last Socialist mayor of a large American city.
Milwaukee has had non-partisan elections since 1912, but Socialism had developed a strong foothold in the largely German and working-class Milwaukee of the turn of the century, said Milwaukee historian John Gurda.Zeidler served as mayor of Milwaukee from 1948 to 1960, and died at the age of 93.
"They were creative; they were incorruptible; they were absolutely incorruptible; they were frugal," Gurda said of the Socialists.
"Historians described him in the tradition of Milwaukee's sewer socialists," said Zeidler's youngest daughter, Jeanne, who followed her father into politics and is mayor of Williamsburg, Va.
"They were community leaders, mayors of Milwaukee who thought everyone should have access to plumbing in their homes," she said. "But he also had a bigger vision than that. He really was an activist of world peace, of tolerance, of people working together."
His three terms as mayor were marked by large-scale construction of public housing, creation of the first educational television station in Wisconsin and city beautification programs.