Lizzie Wienke’s Story (5) Conclusion!

I wrote this in 1999.

Lizzie and George Kneese became a formidable duo, winning elections, and wielding political power in the county for a decade. But the power came at a price as each day brought skirmishes with political foes.

1n 1929, the “10 years war” came to the surface, a fight over the allocation of funds between Elizabeth Kneese and J.J. Shields, the county auditor. It flared into the open when Shields refused to honor a $172 claim “for services rendered” by Elizabeth Kneese.

On the surface it seemed petty but the underlying struggle was deadly serious.

Approved by the board of supervisors, Mrs. Kneese’s invoice was for delivering election supplies to 172 precincts in the county for the 1928 presidential election. District Attorney Franklin Swart weighed in, asserting that “the claim was not property itemized.”

“The Kneeses have been bleeding the county right along,” charged Auditor Shields. “My investigation revealed that at least two bunches of those supplies were delivered by Kneese to Pescadero in a county automobile, propelled by county gasoline. I want to know how, and by whom, the other 170 packages were delivered.”

The auditor’s war on Elizabeth Kneese continued. “According to law, the amount paid for such service is left to the judgment of the Auditor, and I intend to know the details.”

Under attack, Elizabeth Kneese, the seasoned politician, brushed it off. “Just the old personal squabble,” she said. “Shields has been warring with my husband, who is county engineer, and me, ever since we took office ten years ago. I delivered practically all of those election supplies myself in our automobile, not because I wanted the money, but so I would be sure they were properly delivered. A dollar a trip to each precinct is cheap enough. Anyway, the Board of Supervisors thought so.”

The voters made their choice at the ballot box, opting not to re-elect the powerful team of Elizabeth and George Kneese.

The precocious Coastside youngster, who became “the most popular teacher” and then one of the County’s powerful women, retired from politics.

Elizabeth Kneese cared for her mom, Meta, until her death in 1935. Two years later Lizzie died at age 54. George Kneese remained active in civic and business affairs, passing away at age 79 in 1964.