Paul Grenier Returns to Berlin City Hall, This Time As a City Councilor

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Former Berlin Mayor Paul Grenier is now a city councilor.


BERLIN – It was a short, two-month break but former mayor Paul Grenier is back in City Hall, this time as a city councilor.

On March 18 at the city council work session, the council voted to select Grenier after Denise Morgan had resigned her term. Grenier will serve until the next municipal election, which concludes in January 2026.

“I’m here to serve the community,” something he said he has done for over 32 years, said Grenier, a Democrat.

He said in his interview for the job that his greatest strength is in budgeting, and he is keenly aware of the issues the city has in emerging from a period of tough transitions. 

A profile of both the new Mayor Robert Cone, a Republican, retired Army National Guard member and employee of the federal prison, and Grenier following the four-way race for mayor in November 2023 is here

According to the draft minutes of the work session March 18, which still have to be finalized, the vote was held in open session and Grenier won with five votes from Councilors Peter Morency, Brian Valerino, Mia Qualls, Diana Berthiaume and Peter Higbee. 

Two went for another candidate. 

Mayor Robert Cone did not vote.

Grenier had been mayor of the city and ran for re-election but lost to Cone by 49 votes. 

About 42 percent of the voters went to the polls in the municipal election Nov. 7, 2023.

Grenier said in an email Friday that City Councilor Denise Morgan resigned because of employment matters. 

“She’s the manager of an insurance firm and the workload has been such that it would have begun to interfere with her duties,” Grenier said.

Candidates included Richard White, Kathy Trumbull, and George Bigl, Jr. 

Micah Bachner was initially a candidate but removed his name from consideration before the meeting.

Grenier, a native of Berlin and a 1973 graduate of Berlin High School, said he has served in some capacity within city government for 32 years. 

He was a city councilor for 16 years and mayor for 14 years. 

Grenier said he has been present and involved in significant key developments in Berlin including Burgess Biopower, North Country Growers and the RAISE Grant. 

He told the council he can guide the city into areas they might not want to go, according to the minutes. 

“He stated he will not be around forever and sees this as an opportunity to help the transition to a younger generation to make sure their government works well and stays well,” according to the work session minutes.

Grenier told the council he is a big believer in public education and proud of the Berlin public schools.

He is business manager at the Notre Dame Arena, treasurer of its board of directors and runs the learn to skate program.

Grenier said he thinks the biggest issue facing the community is the perceived challenges from people who don’t understand how far down the city has been and “how we’re starting to climb out of that hole.”

He said he feels that Berlin’s self-image needs to improve after losing many of its mills and associated jobs over the past few decades.

The property taxes are high in New Hampshire, but he told the council there is no sales tax, no income tax or taxes on savings which results in local government having to divide its income only one way. 

He said he reviewed the FY2025 budget at a glance and already can see there’s an opportunity for no tax increase. 

“Councilor Theberge addressed Mr. Grenier comment that in regards to his application letter it seems as if he is proposing that members of the Council are not fully qualified. He also noted that Mr. Grenier said he had a unique set of experience. He questioned Mr. Grenier as to what sets he thinks he has that other members of the Council don’t have. Mr. Grenier responded that with all due respect he asked Councilor Theberge to point out where in his letter he insinuates that members of the Council aren’t qualified. Councilor Theberge read a section of the letter as follows: ‘Being a city councilor would be a welcome role for me as I can help newer folks adapt and understand the role of the city council.’” 

Councilor Theberge, the draft minutes state, commented that the Council can do that. Grenier responded he remembers when he first walked through the doors as a city councilor, it took him six months with coaching to understand the complete role of a city councilor.

Theberge asked Grenier what unique set of experiences he brings that none of the other Council members have. 

“He responded that he was able to bring Capone Iron to Berlin. He’s worked hard since 2015 with North Country Growers to be able to get this project across the finish line.” 

“Councilor Theberge commented he doesn’t deny that but what Mr. Grenier fails to acknowledge is that he alone is not responsible for those accomplishments, there are State officials behind those accomplishments that really made it happen. 

“Councilor Theberge commented that Mr. Grenier has repeatedly come after him and he has concerns that if he becomes a member of this Council he will continue doing so. He stated that when Mr. Grenier was mayor he supported him. He admires what he’s done, but he’s afraid that this continual attack upon his character will be disruptive,” the minutes state.

“Mr. Grenier responded that this is in a different purview,” and that as city councilor instead he is no longer the mayor. 

“Grenier said he has spoken at length with the new mayor and is in full support of him and Theberge said he was pleased to hear that.

“Councilor Theberge commented that in the past election Mr. Grenier paid not only for his own political signs but those of members of the Council that were running for election. He asked Mr. Grenier why he did that. Mr. Grenier responded he does not need to answer this question and will not.” 

Councilor Qualls commented that when she read Grenier’s letter referring to the welcome role comment, she took that as he knows what it is to be on City Council and would be an added benefit in helping newer Council members learn their new roles, the minutes state. 

Grenier said if he thought for one second he would be a problem to the Council, he would have stayed home. 

During the voting debate, Berthiaume said it is not productive for Theberge and Grenier to be at odds. Theberge “reassured Council that If Mr. Grenier becomes a member of this Council, he will support him, he will not attack him, he will work with him, the Mayor and the entire Council,” the minutes state.

“Councilor Morency commented that we can agree to disagree on things and move forward without turning into personal attacks, we will learn from each other, work together and do what’s best for each other.” 

At the conclusion of the session, Grenier was given the Oath of Office by City Clerk Shelli Fortin to take his seat at the Council table.

Paula Tracy is’s senior writer. She has worked in print and television reporting for 30 years.

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