Pierre Willette, our director of government relations, has been with our company for five years and is affectionately known around the office as a “policy wonk.” In this month’s Team Goff Q&A, Pierre shares his takes on the latest legislative happenings, a recent milestone for his family, what he’s reading lately and more.
What are the biggest challenges and opportunities working in the current hybrid legislative session?
The logistics of seeing people take a lot of time. Things are opening up at the Capitol now, so the informal relationship work is returning (thank goodness!). I think the Zoom option will remain for some time, especially for clients that would have had to travel for a hearing or a meeting, but nothing beats the face-to-face time with our colleagues, legislators and staff.
What are the top two or three things people should be watching for this session?
The large pieces of budget compromise, tax cuts vs. new spending, the bonding bill, of course, and how much of the surplus gets left on the table in anticipation of turbulent economic times in the future.
What has been one of the most memorable projects you’ve worked on with a client?
Years ago, I helped save some public pensions that needed to be merged into larger statewide pensions. I got to meet all the incredible retired public servants who had dedicated their lives to local government: The kind of unsung heroes nobody ever thanks but everybody relies upon.
Before working at Goff, what was the most unusual or interesting job you’ve ever had?
A very long time ago I worked in a stained-glass studio: Building, repairing and installing art glass. It was a great job, and I was trained by some very talented craftspeople.
What are your hopes for the public affairs industry?
I hope people continue to see the importance of constructive engagement with their government officials. There is too much confrontation now and if the public spent more time listening and understanding others’ points of view, more good leaders would stick around. It is really easy to object to things, it’s way more work to get things done.
What has been your proudest personal moment lately?
One of my sons was married recently to a terrific person and all my kids were so great with their roles in the celebrations.
What is your most unique talent or interest?
I love to ride and repair and restore vintage bicycles. Mostly vintage Japanese road bikes of the ‘70s and ‘80s. Don’t ask me about it because I’ll never stop talking.
What are you reading, watching or listening to these days?
I am reading “The Splendid and the Vile” by Erik Larson. A great saga about Winston Churchill and his incredible leadership in the early years of WWII. And I’m watching the Minnesota United (Go Loons!).
What trivia category do you always crush it in?
I am pretty good at music from the ‘80s and ‘90s.
Where is your favorite place in the world?
That is such a hard question. At home, on a Sunday with my family.