Karl Emil Nygard

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Karl Emil Nygard, also known as Emil C. Nygard and under the pen name Ada M. Oredigger (August 25, 1906 – April 26, 1984), was an American Communist politician who became the first Communist mayor in the United States when he was elected President of the Village Council of Crosby, Minnesota in 1932.

Political life[edit]

The son of Swedish-speaking immigrants from Finland, Nygard had previously run for mayor in 1930 and 1931 but lost by 250 and 48 votes, respectively. In the November 8, 1932 general election, he ran unsuccessfully for state railroad and warehouse commissioner, polling 9,458 votes statewide. Later, in the December 6, 1932 village election, he won the mayoralty on the Workers Ticket with 529 votes, against 359 votes for incumbent F. H. Kraus and 301 votes for Ernest B. Erickson; he was inaugurated on January 3, 1933.

Stating that he was "under the strict discipline of the Communist party", he incorporated the Workers Advisory Committee into the municipal government by allowing it to pass bills before they went before the formal Village Council. On a controversial trip to New York City later in 1933, he was accused of exaggerating his influence in front of Communist audiences and boasted of his challenges to the authority of Crosby police and businessmen. One of his other acts in office was to declare May Day an official holiday. Nygard was defeated for re-election in December 1933 and made his last run in 1934.

Personal life[edit]

Nygard married Helen Koski in 1936 and they raised their family in Becker County. Though he distanced himself from the Communist Party, he reportedly remained committed to Marxism for the rest of his life. Nygard died in 1984.


  • Brunfelt, Pamela A. "Karl Emil Nygard: Minnesota's Communist mayor". Minnesota History Vol. 58, Issue 3 (2002), p. 168-186.