Under New ManagementOct 01, 2022 ● By Lisa Sciortino
Photos provided by The City of Frisco
Wes Pierson is the first to admit that he has a lot to learn about Frisco, and he is wasting no time getting up to speed.
Frisco’s second city manager stepped into the role in August. He was selected following a nationwide search for a replacement for George Purefoy, who retired in June after more than three decades on the job.
The previous city manager for the Town of Addison, Pierson boasts 13 years of city management experience having also previously served the cities of Corpus Christi and Allen.
During a recent interview at his office at the George A. Purefoy Municipal Center, Pierson told Frisco STYLE that he “doesn’t feel pressured to be George. I don’t think anyone expects that of me. … He has done an amazing job and deserves all of the accolades and all of the respect and all of the recognition for what he did for this community, and he did it the right way. I view it as a privilege to be able to build on the foundation he has created.”
Running any city, he says, “is pretty standard. There are basic, fundamental things that you need to do correctly to be able to be effective. … There are nuances to the situations that exist in the city that are unique to this community. Those are things you have to make sure you understand before you start to pull on levers, for example, because if you don’t … you can start to make things more difficult than they need to be.”
It helps to think of cities as major corporations. Frisco, he says, “is more like a publicly traded corporation than a small business corporation. We’re highly regulated. We have to operate according to state and federal laws, and we’ve got a number of diverse interests that are wanting us to do maybe sometimes things that aren’t all in agreement with one another. It is a complex, big organization that has to make sure we are doing things that reflect the will of the community.”
A People Pierson
Pierson says his top priority since beginning as Frisco’s city manager has been to “understand what’s going on in the community and the (city government) organization. … Spending the time to get to know people, to know the issues, to ask questions and to learn … has been very helpful. … I can do that because we have some really amazing people taking care of the business of the city. While I spend time to understand, they’re making sure that things are still happening at a high level. It’s a blessing to have that.”
One would assume that stepping into a leadership role in a city as diverse and dynamic as Frisco would be a bit daunting. In fact, Pierson says, at first even he “didn’t fully appreciate how much momentum” the city possesses. “There are things happening that are really exciting, and you see it in the newspaper but honestly, I don’t think that fully reflects what’s going on in Frisco.”
The city is proving to be a good fit for Pierson, who says people are another of his top priorities. “You can’t do this business without good people – period. That is the business. We provide services to the community, so people interacting with people. You’ve got to be financially prudent and use the resources appropriately. That is hiring good people to make sure all of that gets done. That’s the name of the game.”
Luckily, he says, Purefoy and other city leaders “hired amazing people and they’re doing amazing work. I can’t tell you how important that is. … You have a lot of people in this organization who have been here 15, 16, 17 years. As they continue to move (in their careers), we’re preparing the people to follow in their footsteps to continue to legacy of important, excellent work here.”
Man on a Mission
Pierson says his “personal mission is to build and maintain trust, and the good thing about Frisco is that there are high levels of trust. So, I’m not coming to an environment where I need to completely rebuild or fix something that’s broken. But I do have to spend time to build trust with members of the community, with members of the organization and the (city) council. … That gives me a lot of energy because I’m doing something I feel passionately about and that is making sure that people can trust me and the organization, but then I also enjoy building relationships and helping people."
On the flip side, he says he has put his trust in the various city departments and their staffers to continue doing “amazing work” within the city. “As a leader, you have to both cast a vision but also be supportive. If you’ve hired the right people, you have to let them do their work” as well as ensure “that there’s constant and clear communication so that everyone is on the same page.”
The latter is likely also true on the home front for Pierson. He and his wife, Ann, have been married for 17 years and are the parents of five children who range in age from 6 to 13 years old. “They are a blast,” he says of his kids, who were excited about the family’s move to Frisco this year. “There’s so much to do here. This is a great community for families. We’re looking forward to doing everything.”
Lisa Sciortino is managing editor of Frisco STYLE Magazine.