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Chris Pappas has learned politics, family business from ground up

CONCORD — From an early age, District 4 Executive Councilor Chris Pappas was drawn to public service, volunteering for political campaigns and as part of the family business.

Pappas, 33, of Manchester, was a Manchester Central High School student in 1996 when he heard Jeanne Shaheen, a state senator running for governor, and decided to volunteer for her campaign.

"Every day after school, I'd go down to her campaign headquarters," Pappas said, "and do whatever they wanted me to do that day."

Pappas was struck by what Shaheen said about education and how it creates opportunities for people. As a high school student, he saw education open up opportunities for his fellow students and what that meant to them.

The Shaheen campaign was the first for Pappas, and many more followed as he sought and helped candidates run for local and state offices. He also jumped into presidential campaigns, served as a delegate to the Democratic national nominating convention in 2008 and 2012, and he chaired the Manchester Democratic City Committee for several years.

Soon after he graduated from Harvard with a bachelor's degree in political science, he decided to run for the New Hampshire House. The filing period was extended into July when lawmakers could not agree on a redistricting plan for House and Senate districts, and the state Supreme Court had to draw the political boundaries.

Pappas was successful and won again in 2004, serving on the powerful House Ways and Means and Finance committees.
But he found his work on the Finance Committee required more and more of his time, and he had a responsibility to his family and its business.

Pappas decided to join the family business, the Puritan Backroom Restaurant, which was established by his great-grandfather with his cousin in 1917. From the time he was 12 years old, Pappas worked at the restaurant, starting as a dishwasher and then becoming a waiter, ice cream scooper and maker.

"I've done every job here," Pappas said. "It's been hands-on. It's all about customer service."

He credits his ancestors for his work ethic, his opportunities and for encouraging his involvement in public service.

"My ability to serve in public life is due to the hard work the earlier generation put in," said Pappas, who is the fourth generation of his family to own the business.

He sees a parallel between business and politics.

"I've learned that the customer is always right," Pappas said. "The voter is always right, too, and you have to respect their opinion and respect the verdict."

Both politics and business involve community, Pappas noted.

"I chose to come back to Manchester, a city and community that gave me a lot of opportunities in life," he said. "I want to do my part to ensure the city remains a vibrant place to live and do business, and I want to ensure New Hampshire remains a great place to live."

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