VanRisseghem announces bid for re-election as mayor of Little Falls

Cathy VanRisseghem
Cathy VanRisseghem

Little Falls Mayor Cathy VanRisseghem has officially announced her plans to run for re-election as mayor this November. “We have made tremendous progress in Little Falls these past years. I have been working with a group of dedicated people who have been working on creating a greater Little Falls. The momentum has started; we now need to keep it going”.  Mayor VanRisseghem said. “And I hope to be there to continue to steer our city into further areas of progress and growth in the future.  Whatever the challenge, I have not wavered in my belief that Little Falls is indeed one of the greatest cities in the World and with hard work and determination, we have a chance to make it even greater”

VanRisseghem lists several community accomplishments and local governance accomplishments during her terms, with the help of others including the formation of the Linden Hill Task Force, Boys and Girls Club, Camp Ripley Veterans State Trail “Town 101,” citywide garage sale, Adopt a Spot program, beautification campaign, fundraiser for zebra at the zoo; Taylor Chebet Twitchell playground; Blue Letter campaign to save the Charles A. Lindbergh Historic Site;

Local governance level, VanRisseghem lists her accomplishments as reducing the city debt by $11 million; the completion of the 18th Street Northeast extension; 800 MHz project; major rehabilitation of pretreatment facility; acquisition of Minnesota Department of Transportation property for the Little Falls Area Recreation Complex; new LED city lights; bike lanes; Mayor’s Youth Task Force; city website; downtown beautification committee; retail/business development and retention committee; retail market study; quiet zone; business recruitment and expansion and affordable housing development.

“Going forward, I would like to continue the work that has been started; support city police fight against drugs, continue to reduce city debt, restoring downtown, implementing the trail system, repair the aging infrastructure, strengthen the business community, and build a splash pad and skate park without tax dollars, said VanRisseghem.

VanRisseghem has been a lifelong resident of the Little Falls area and has been married to her husband, George, for 40 years. They are the parents of four children and have 12 grandchildren.

  • robin hensel

    Odd that the mayor says she wants to help build a splashpad/skatepark without tax dollars, when both of those projects are included in the 7.9 MILLION DOLLAR TAX REFERENDUM she supports, asking the residents to shoulder the burden for 12 or more years. No wonder residents are calling me wondering why she is talking out of both sides of her mouth.

    • Or perhaps as we’ve more often seen…talking out of some other orifice.

      • LF Taxpayer

        A little bitter are we/

        • robin hensel

          Far from bitter…outraged is a much more fitting term for the outlandish suggestion of any and all supporter/backers of the sales tax referendum. Sales taxes are the most regressive of all taxes and hit the lower income folks hardest of all. Simply absurb… when each week more and more homeowners are being foreclosed on and businesses going belly up that the MAYOR..COUNCIL AND LITTLE FALLS AREA RECREATIONAL COMPLEX committee members believe city taxpayers can afford this. This city doesnt even have all sidewalks sloped for disability access. Who except the opportunity hoarding poofy party clan would vote for this?

          • central mn

            “Sales taxes are the most regressive of all taxes and hit the lower income folks hardest of all. Simply absurb…” Robin you have it all wrong, in order to collect a sales tax the lower income folks have to buy something. If you can’t AFFORD it DON’T buy it, simple economics. It works for all walks of life.

          • robin hensel

            So in other words central mn…if the lower income people really REALLY NEED SOMETHING…they should just go WITHOUT if they cant afford it…right???and who cares if all that extra tax hurts them much more than the affluent…who cares right??

          • central mn

            No robin not “who cares”, I do care. What I meant is they can go with out cigs, beer, smart phones, etc. Stuff they can go without and still survive.

          • robin hensel

            I figured that, but who are you to judge what they should or shouldn’t go without? Poverty is the underlying problem in our country as well as our nation and until every community really addresses that, and solves that, we are going to continue to be plagued with injustice, crimes, and all the other negative issues that come with not having enough $$ to meet human need.

        • Lol! I’d be more apt to call it outrage and this week’s council agenda illustrates one more reason why! As Her Majesty’s term comes to an end, staff at the city is just now inquiring as to the laws that govern conflict of interest. At this stage Dan Vogt, Lori Kasella, the Mayor, the city attorney and every member of council should know the laws that govern their positions inside out! Conflict of interest should be understood and perfunctory to any elected official because its law! Same with misuse of public funds, illegal fundraising. The ONLY council member raising issue and voting against this kind of stuff is Crowder and the rest are p!ssed at him for it?!

          The laws and policies of any organization aren’t just fluff if they feel like it. Its the bones of the organization to which everything else is pinned. Those laws protect the city, they protect the taxpayers AND they also protect each individual elected official…point that seems grossly lost on this lot.

          When you look over the minutes from lets say the Youth Task force you have the Mayor “confirming” for the group in 2010 that the city of Little Falls is a 501c3 non profit! How the F does that happen?!!! You have Mary Kenna present who knows better but says nothing. Zylka’s wife who reviews minutes and send them out….Then you have money earmarked for Youth as Resources, an Initiative Foundation grant, that gets moved to the Youth Task Force, which was completely outside the scope of the grant!

          Fire Dan Vogt and Toni Wetzel…if its expensive “research” for the city to just now figure out what constitutes conflict of interest this administration has not done its job. What does Wetzel do that isn’t expensive research? Fire Dan and hire a damn Administrator who know knows the job! And Lori Kasella was waiting to hear back to see if the city had to provide a reasonable accommodation for a disability at council meeting? After this long, how is it that city officials don’t understand the basic underpinnings of the American’s with Disabilities Act?

          Any administrator or director worth a damn comes into a job knowing this stuff.Its like being a police officer who doesn’t bother knowing what the laws or policies are…how the hell do you do your job without it? The laws and policies completely and totally define the job, its the bones of the entire structure.This administration doesn’t even understand its own polices let alone basic laws and we’re at the end of a term! Instead of holding themselves accountable to be competent they’re hedging bets as to whether or not members of the community will pony up to sue them. The legal implications could mean lawsuits up the wazoo for years to come.

          If CVR were to win, and she won’t…there will be a recall election. Is non-feasance, misfeasance and malfeasance provable in this case? Without question. And while Zylka seems like a nice guy…he’s gone along with all of this regardless of how many times Crowder called these decisions into question. If you don’t know find out!

          So, you have Dan Vogt on paper trying to make it seem like a waste of taxpayer money to have to pay Toni Wetzel to define conflict of interest???? Like its a frivilous demand on Crowder’s part. Which means DAN VOGT still has NO clue as to why grasping the scope of these laws is ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY. Instead, he’s trying to frame Crowder’s attempt to see to it that state and federal laws are followed for the protection of everyone as a waste of money. Vogt is trying to make defining the correct application of existing laws a political issue????!!! Its not political, its a law.

          Does he think the city can pick and chose? Based on that alone, I say: FIRE HIM. FIRE HIM. FIRE HIM. FIRE HIM. He’s incompetent and that poses a huge legal risk to the city and its taxpayers. Replace him and Wetzel with a city attorney who is experienced in laws that govern municipalities. Had the city done this the Hensel suit would have never happened. Dan is staring the issue straight in the eyes and it goes right over his head. Fire him.

          I’m assuming no one has submitted a disclosure form when they took office …signed conflict of interest statements?

          The Attorney General used to send out staffers to do trainings, maybe that was just for non profits but it would be worth checking into and doing some type of orientation when people take office. These things should be understood for everyone’s protection.

          The road to hell is paved with adverbs.

          • LF Taxpayer

            It is obvious that you and your cohorts do not appreciate any opposing point of view whatsoever. I have realized it is a complete waste of time to engage at any level because you gals think you are subject matter experts at everything yet as far as I can tell do nothing productive for this city. I am no longer going to waste my time engaging you on this forum, take care, I hope you find some happiness some day.

          • Rick Witte

            But LF they are our resident legal scholars! Why should we have a City Attorney when we have them to interpret court decisions for us. Oh, thats right they interpret nothing but rather give us their learned OPINION.

            Seems they rail on the waste of City funds but then rail on the City Administrator for attempting to save the City Attorney fees. Seems there is not an issue they cant talk out of both ends on. They expect the City Administrator, when asked a legal question to give an answer. When you have a legal question do you go to your dentist for an answer or do you go to a Lawyer? Apparently they would want legal questions to be answered by non Lawyers.

            They expect the Mayour and Council to be legal scholars, well they should face reality. They have a City Attorney for a reason. The positions of Mayour and Councilperson are sought by those who wish to serve the Community. One need not be conversant in municipal law to run for office. Certainly there are training courses new municipal officers attend, but they are general in nature. Certainly City official should have a general knowledge of municipal law, but these two what only legal scholars. Apparently that would disqualify both of them.

            Certainly anyone can look up State Statutes concerning anything, but without guidance in the form of past legal opinions one cannot garner how the law fits with unique circumstances.

          • Leave it to you to claim that lawyers have some warped version of eminent domain over law. I spent nearly a decade working for a political action committee and later as a lobbyist. I’ve written bills. One that I handed off to, among others, the current Republican Congressional candidate Jim Abeler.

            Lawyers have no exclusivity to laws.Bills are in the pervue of the legislators and lobbyists years and sometimes decades before they become law and are then handed down to lawyers. How they might be interpreted and used or misused is also part of what of a a lobbyist does.

            Factor in that I served as a commissioner on human rights and was trained as a no fault grievance mediator by the State Dept of Human Rights. I mediated disagreements between parties in an attempt to prevent lawsuits and reduce pressure on the state dept. I also worked for nearly a decade as an administrator and executive director/chief financial officer, government relations and a designated lobbyist. I’ve testified before the Minnesota state legislature and the California Assembly.

            So far, I was right about restricted use funds. I was right that the city isn’t a 501C3 non profit. I was right when I said the city can’t fund raise. I was right when I said the school district was out of compliance with ADA and section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. And I think the Toni Wetzel’s response on conflict of interest is wrong due to the specific circumstances of the bank issue but I haven’t had time to prove that yet.

            Furthermore, Dan Vogt came to Little Falls in 2012. Nice of you to defend is ignorance but in 2011 the city of Brainerd under HIS administration drafted an excellent and comprehensive, 5 page conflict of interest policy. That policy included loans and identified a long laundry list of people identified as “immediate family” which included the elected officials siblings, in laws, half siblings, children, grand children.

            Since Dan was so concerned about the money the city would have to spend to answer an important legal question raised by Crowder, perhaps he could have shared with the city his vast wealth of experience. Which is what he was hired for but instead he left the city to reinvent the wheel. Vogt was also hired to review city policies but 2 years into the job and not only does our city not have a conflict of interest policy but they don’t even know what a conflict is or how to properly discharge one. Items securely in place in before he left the city of Brainerd.

          • Rick Witte

            Well thanks for the CV, but?

          • Rick Witte

            Really interesting to put out prior to an election that if the incumbent were to win you and the Lawsuit Queen would immediately start gathering signatures for a recall petition. Would that be spite with Robin coming in third, again?

            So out of spite you would cause the taxpayer, whom you purport to be their champion, the cost of yet another election months after just paying for one. Yeah, I can see you are both watchdogs of the tax dollars. Way to start off the Lawsuit Queens quest for the Mayoural seat. Lets see if she does better than losing 3-1!

          • First off, I never discussed a recall election with Robin. Second I’ve settled more suits than Robin so the crown you gave to her should be mine. Third,after talking to the Sec of State I think there’s sufficient grounds for a recall right now but rules not only prevent it from occurring but hopefully it will be avoided should she lose.

            Ultimately, the responsibility falls to CVR to examine her own track record and decide whether or not her candidacy is in the best interest of the community. She can, and should in my opinion, withdraw from the race or face a potential recall election should she win.

            And I don’t care who wins the seat of mayor providing they follow the city’s policies and state and federal laws. Anyone who has the grace to admit when they don’t know and then find out.

          • Rick Witte

            Well you can certainly arrange with Robin to wear the crown on alternating days. Whichever you chose. I’m sure you can mediate a equitable settlement.

            The rules, according to the City Charter, do not prevent a recall, but give the Council the authourity to have the recall election at the time of the next regularly scheduled election if within 60 days. Whether or not the grounds are sufficient to recall an elected official is determined by the voters; no one else. The Charter sets no limits on what issues a recall committee could forward such a petition on.

            Ultimately the responsibility for determining whether or not Cathy returns to the Mayours office rests with the voters. They will assess the issues presented and determine whether or not Cathy or Greg will fill the seat. Why should she withdraw it is the voters who will determine here future in elected office.

            Were Cathy to prevail the issues you would forward in any recall would certainly be the same as those raised in the general election. What you would essentially be doing is telling the voters that you do not agree with their decision and tell them to do it again. Rather spiteful in my opinion and rather indicative of a sore loser!

            There is an election in November, present your issue to the electorate, and let them decide. If they elect Cathy what makes you think they would make a different decision months later?

          • central mn

            “Well you can certainly arrange with Robin to wear the crown on
            alternating days. Whichever you chose. I’m sure you can mediate a
            equitable settlement.” -Rick there is NO way they will both find PRO BONO lawyers for that one.

  • J. Uchiha

    “…and build a splash pad and skate park without tax dollars, said VanRisseghem.”
    Hmm, isn’t there a sales tax referendum in the works that is being pushed for…?

    • Rick Witte

      Yes there is a referendum on the ballot, but from my reading of the news reports the goal of the City and Committee is still to attempt to fund these things with private dollars. It seem inclusion of these items in the referendum is a fall back position should the quest for private dollars not materialize. Sounds like a sound fall back position to me.

      • Concerned citizen

        Attempt and Fall back……….. Doesn’t sound very sound to me!!

  • my veiw

    That was a good idea in theory. Not having to use tax payer dollars but when it comes down to it a lot of our resourses are tied up in law suites that address one person, so now that many people are afraid to act. I don’t mind the tax. Just cause no one wants to donate and I understand that but I want to see this splash pad project up and running. I would even donate time to it. I lived in this town my whole life and when we had stuff for the kids to play, funding was cut. now towns around use that are smaller then us have something so come on everbody lets get together to get this going