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Yesterday in La Crosse

Lower the voting age in Wisconsin? A radical idea, 60 years ago

Brad Williams

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In 1959, Assemblyman Hugh Harper of Grant County proposed dropping the state voting age to 18, arguing that by the time high school graduates get to be 21, they might lose interest in government.  Harper was 73 years old when he offered the bill.  The national voting age was lowered to 18 just twelve years later.   

La Crosse’s city leaders had some ideas for change in ’59.  One suggestion was a referendum on whether to replace the mayor with a city manager…reviving a proposal made earlier by the incumbent mayor, Milo Knutson.  There was also talk of electing the La Crosse school board, which was then appointed by the city council.  Under the election plan, there would be nine board members, three on the ballot every year running for three-year terms.  That system is still used today in La Crosse.    And Cuba had a new leader…with revolutionary Fidel Castro replacing the U.S.-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista.  Castro had been described as a “professional rebel,” having taken part in rebellions in Colombia and the Dominican Republic.  Castro takes over in 1959, yesterday in La Crosse.  

And Cuba had a new leader, with revolutionary Fidel Castro replacing the U.S.-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista.  Castro had been described as a “professional rebel,” having taken part in rebellions in Colombia and the Dominican Republic.  Castro takes over in 1959, yesterday in La Crosse.  

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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