Pereira, Bradley, Walker Announce School Board Run At Ganim Event

Walker, Pereira, Bradley
From left, Ben Walker, Maria Pereira and Dennis Bradley at Ganim fundraiser.

Former school board member Maria Pereira, attorney Dennis Bradley and Greenwich music teacher Ben Walker announced Friday night at a fundraiser for Joe Ganim they will be Democratic candidates for the Board of Education.

The three candidates sent a joint letter a few days ago to 10 Democratic district leaders as a first step in seeking support from the 90-member Democratic Town Committee that will make candidate endorsements July 21. They are supporting the mayoral comeback bid of Joe Ganim whose campaign conducted a fundraiser Friday night at O’Manel Restaurant on Main Street with roughly 200 people in attendance.

Ganim at O'Manel
Ganim fundraiser at O’Manel Friday night. From Ganim’s Facebook page.

Pereira served one four-year term on the school board from 2009-2013. She was on the board in 2011 when the Board of Education voted to dissolve itself in favor of a state takeover of city schools that was overturned by the Connecticut Supreme Court. Pereira opposed the takeover. She’s an unwavering critic of charter schools that she says siphons needed funds from traditional school districts. She has continued to attend board meetings regularly, staying active in education issues.

Last August, Bradley finished second in a Democratic primary to party-endorsed Chris Rosario who defeated incumbent Christina Ayala in Connecticut’s 128th State House District.

Walker has emerged as a city education advocate. Last November he applied for the vacant school board slot following the resignation of John Bagley. The school board chose charter school advocate Kadisha Coates. Walker’s wife is a city school teacher.

In their joint letter to district leaders they wrote, “We are completely committed to working together to do what is in the best interest of the Bridgeport Public School students whose education, and future prospects and success, would be entrusted to us. We passionately believe that providing our students with a proper education is a key component to the revitalization of Bridgeport. An adequate investment in our children’s education would reduce our crime rates, incarceration rates, addiction rates, dropout rates, unemployment rates, and reduce the need for public assistance. A vibrant public school system is critical to attracting residents and businesses that can provide a living wage as well as increasing real estate values.”

They also shared in the letter bio information:


I was born and raised in Bridgeport, and I am currently a resident of the 138th. As a graduate of the Bridgeport Public Schools, I have an absolute passion for true public education and our 22,000 students that attend schools in the most underfunded school district in Connecticut. I have attended 95% of the Regular BBOE meeting since 2009. As a former Bridgeport Board of Education member, I have a full understanding of the inner workings of the BOE, its policies and CT state statutes governing education. I have also developed relationships with a variety of legislators in Hartford as I repeatedly traveled to Hartford during the most recent legislative session to testify before the Education Committee and lobby legislators to adequately fund our true public schools.

Since 2009, I have been a fierce advocate for not only my child, but for all our true public school children in which over 40% live in poverty. I possess an extensive level of knowledge regarding local, state and national education initiatives and policies. I have complete faith in the abilities of our students, and both the commitment of their families and our educators, and I will do everything in my power to support them in any way possible.


I am currently a practicing attorney in Bridgeport, residing in the 136th district; and am also a member of my Democratic Town Committee. I have been regularly attending Bridgeport Board of Education meeting since January 2015. I also traveled to Hartford several times during our most recent legislative session to testify before the Education Committee and speak with legislators regarding the resources and funding our Bridgeport Public School students so richly deserve.

When I look at so many of our urban students I often see myself as a child. Education was the platform with which I was able to empower myself professionally and become a leader in the community. In turn, I would like to continue fighting for the support, programming, and services that our students so desperately need. I am confident that our Bridgeport Public Schools can produce attorneys, doctors, educators, entrepreneurs, congressmen, senators, mayors, and even a future governor. I want to give them the opportunity to do so.


I am a 35-year educator, teaching Band in Greenwich High School. My wife is also a teacher that has worked for the Bridgeport Public Schools for over 25 years. We currently live in the 135th District in the Lake Forrest community.

I have been regularly attending Bridgeport Board of Education meetings since November 2014, and truly believe I am able to offer expertise in the area of instruction, professional development, and the importance of the arts in the Bridgeport Public Schools.

As a teacher in Greenwich, I am able to see firsthand the disparity between the “haves” and the “have nots.” I want to fight for the 22,000 students in the Bridgeport Public Schools that deserve an education equivalent to what our wealthy suburban neighbors receive. Our children deserve no less.




  1. Hector Diaz, your time is now, you had expressed an interest to run for the Bridgeport Board Of Education the last election but you didn’t run. Well the time has come again, Hector, if you plan on running then step up and let everybody know you are seeking this position and why they should vote for you.


      1. Hector, this is NOT about someone asking you to run. If you want to be involved then you make the decision and run. Why support you if you don’t make it known you are a candidate, you don’t need anyone but Hector Diaz and make it known you are running. You’ll grow old and tired waiting for someone to ask you, you have to be the lead person, don’t wait for Mario or Danny Roach to ask you, instead you tell them you are a candidate for the BBOE, period.

      2. Hector Diaz, I just wanted you to know Dennis Bradley is both Hispanic and black, and speaks fluent Spanish. In other words, he is a “dream” candidate who represents the two largest ethnicities in Bridgeport. The most important attributes Dennis has is his intelligence, professionalism and integrity.

        I think when Dave, Howard, and Andre won in the last BBOE election, we proved what voters ultimately want are candidates who they believe are qualified to serve on the BBOE. If you remember, we were chastised for not having a woman or Hispanic on that slate, however we defeated the ROW A slate 2 to 1.

  2. Andy, what past history? It seems to me the three candidates are extremely qualified and committed. How many people do you know, other than John Marshall Lee, attend meetings in Harford and Bridgeport with their free time? It seems to me the Board of Education would benefit from these individuals. To Ron Mackey’s point, Hector Diaz, as well the above mentioned individuals are Ganim supporters. Maybe they all agreed on the slate? It is a strong slate in my opinion.

    1. Steve, Bonnie has been telling me about how hysterically funny you were last night. I don’t care what Bonnie says, you were not the “token Jew” last night. 🙂

      1. Andy–seems like someone in the Ganim camp has advised Maria not to engage in her usual piranha rebuttals, trying to put on a good positive show. In the past she would have responded to you with a string of insults and nicknames. I guess Joe is not the only one trying to remake their public persona.

        1. Lifelong Bridgeport, so I would be the one to respond with a “string of insults and nicknames.” Are you taking some type of hallucinogenic?

          I have made a conscious decision to not respond to any members of the MJF Gang and have not responded to any of their postings for weeks. Joe Ganim did not influence my decision in the least.

          1. Are you taking some type of hallucinogenic?

            I like that you say “so I would be the one to respond with a ‘string of insults and nicknames’,” then turn around and ask me if I’m on drugs.

          2. Lifelong Bridgeport, don’t dish it out if you can’t take it. I have no idea who you are because you hide behind a handle, therefore I am at a slight disadvantage. Just so you are aware, when I spoke at O’Manel’s last night I introduced myself as Maria Pereira, however I also stated I am also known as Maria Piranha. The entire room roared with laughter. I embrace my inner “piranha” with or without an upcoming election.

          3. Maria Pereira // Jun 19, 2015 at 4:27 pm
            Pete, I thought the exact same thing when I clicked on the link last night. I guess the goal is to learn “how to empty your pockets into Mayor Finch’s campaign coffers.

  3. For the record, Steve Auerbach was my guest at the Portuguese fundraiser for Ganim held at O’Manel’s last night. And, he kept his word and was as respectful as he could be.

    I believe we raised about $25,000 for Joe last night. The Portuguese community was out in full force backing Joe last night. The food/desserts, the décor, the music, the atmosphere was incredible. It was just like a big party and I know I had a blast.

    This morning everyone at Joe’s headquarters told me they had a ball!

    1. Thank you, Maria. The party was excellent for sure. I was amazed at the spread. I could not have picked a better menu. It was really wonderful seeing so many people I knew from the past including my Home Depot days. It is always difficult when supporting different candidates but it was great hearing speeches from so many people I know and respect. Thank you for including me. Joe Ganim was most gracious to me and that shows what a great politician he is. I wish I had known Maria Pires 28 years ago in city hall. Between campaigns, politics, city events and Home depot as well as 30 schools you almost forget where you know people from. I knew a quarter of the people in that room and it was great to see all of them. Thanks again, as you know, I do not get out much. 🙂 P.S. Bonnie Lambert was too funny, make sure she remembers to send John my regards and Ben Walker is a great choice. I have worked with Lisa many times.

        1. Steven Auerbach // Jun 27, 2015 at 2:56 pm
          to your post
          Steve, there was an unscheduled and momentous decision given by the Supreme Court yesterday. I celebrated that decision with many others last night. My candidate knew how important it was for me to be with my community last night.

          1. Oh that! 🙂 An amazing morning it was! Glad you celebrated. I am so glad folks in their ’80s who have been together for 50 years lived to see the day. Australia, Israel and Viet Nam are next.

          2. The truth, was the Republican response from nearly every one of the 16 candidates running, pathetic. They just do not get it.

        2. Steve, I was just thinking I would have loved to see you. That was gracious of you and indicates to me you can accept diversity in candidates running for public office. I missed last night’s event because of a medical emergency involving my daughter, she had to be admitted from the ER. Hopefully everything will be fine.

          1. Lisa, I certainly hope your daughter is okay. I hope you, Carolanne and Hector didn’t think I was publicly embarrassing you for not supporting your man last night. However, Maria P. will be accepting absent notes! Carolanne, you were home sick with a cold, not at a party celebrating an historic moment in time that will change the lives of millions. That is no excuse! 🙂

          2. My daughter is still in the hospital, has had no food or water since Friday. Please my friends, send some light her way.

  4. Formidable.

    The public deserves debates in which we hear from all BOE candidates in large venues, such as a high school auditorium.

    The debates should include questions submitted by the public ahead of time that are posted online for all to see, and then, at the start of the debate, selected out of a hat by the moderator for all to see. Hold your boos and applause until the end. Learn who deserves your vote.

    1. Pete, I agree with you wholeheartedly. As long as the debates are organized by wel- respected organizations, I know I would be happy to participate. I would not participate in any debates organized by charlatan organizations like Excel Bridgeport, ConnCAN, etc.

  5. Hector,
    I agree with you. You were a former State Rep, you have worked tirelessly for the party and your parents dedicated their lives to the Bridgeport Democratic Party.
    It is one thing if Joe Ganim approached you to explain why they did not consider you; did not ask you. But it is another thing to say nothing and have Maria P explain it to you on the blog. Especially with the logic being Dennis Bradley is half Hispanic.
    You my friend are 100% and everyone knows that.

  6. Hector Diaz, I have worked on organizing potential BOE candidates since mid-January. You were engaged in running for state rep. seeking to fill Auden Grogen’s vacancy. There was a list of six potential candidates that was narrowed to four. One candidate’s mom was diagnosed with cancer and withdrew from consideration. The slate was finalized by mid-March, just a couple of weeks after the special election.

    We met with Joe and expressed our interest in running together for the BBOE. Joe shared with us no one else had approached him about the BOE slate. Everything was finalized in early May.

    Don’t let MJF supporters drive a wedge between yourself and Joe. I know Joe Completely respects you. Don’t fall for this stirring of the pot.

  7. So Maria,
    This is your slate and not Joe’s. And Joe said no one else approached me so you three can run. Is that what you are suggesting?
    And this is the so-called leadership of Joe Ganim? So Hector, go get two other friends and demand Joe give you the Sheriff’s slate.

    1. Bob Walsh, you kill me. I mean I know you’d like to kill me, why are you instigating? You are talking to Hector like he were a simpleton. It seems ironic it is two Foster supporters who are instigating something unnecessary. Bob, referring to Mr. Bradley as only half Hispanic is just plain silly.
      On a side note, I met a lovely young lady this morning knocking on my door. I had to go to the window as I had just woken up, naked and afraid 🙂 –great reality show btw. It was councilwoman Eneida Martinez’ daughter canvassing for Mayor Finch.

    2. Just spoke with Hector by phone and all is good. Any attempt at creating a rift with Joe and Hector has failed. Thanks for the honest conversation, Hector.

  8. Bob Walsh, wow, they have Hector Diaz on shutdown and Maria speaking for him and for Dennis Bradley about being part black. And Steve Auberach, the biggest Finch supporter around co-signing for Ganim supporter Maria.

  9. Steve,
    I have never been involved in a primary campaign in which the process for selecting a slate was not known by all.
    Of course the individual heading the ticket had final say or veto power but I never heard of a process anything like what Maria outlined above.
    Doesn’t sound very democratic for a Democratic Party candidate.

  10. Bob Walsh and Ron Mackey,
    I am having a problem with why you are attempting to create conflict. Hector Diaz is a nice guy and apparently really believes in Ganim. Whether or not he was aware of the process or not, the three individuals on the slate are clearly intelligent, articulate and educated. It is not like Hector was overlooked as though he were not worthy.

    Bob and Ron, what I would be concerned about is this. Joe Ganim is an experienced politician and apparently his campaign is beginning to take shape. Finch has not even had his announcement and what are you guys doing? Attacking Maria P.? If she and Hector came to an understanding, why continue to drone on? I will assume all campaigns will move full speed ahead after July 4th.

    I was surprised only Charlie Coviello was at the concert the other day shaking hands with everyone while David Daniels was holding court. These are missed opportunities. I guess you guys had more pressing issues Thursday evening.

  11. Steve, no one is creating conflict and Hector knows and understands the system very well, he was once a State Rep. Plus his father was the Town Clerk for Bridgeport for many years and he was a really good man. My comment has nothing to do with Hector supporting Ganim. Hector has expressed a number of times he wanted to be on the BBOE, so why doesn’t he run now? Hector coming to an agreement with Maria is not an issue with me, after all there will be three positions open and Maria is just one person. It will be the top three candidates who move forward to the general election. I’m not talking against anyone, instead speaking in support of someone who has the experience.

  12. Hector, you have been opinionated and always said what you thought was right irrespective of who it offended. Now it appears as if Maria is speaking for you. You say you believe the Puerto Rican community needs to be represented on the BBOE, but are you now saying having someone who is nearly PR, close to being PR is good enough for you?

    Jeb Bush speaks fluent Spanish as well, just saying.

  13. No Steven, President Obama is a black man, no ifs, ands or maybe. I can assure you his life’s experiences dictate he is indeed a black man. President Obama has never said he was anything other than a black man whose mother was white.

    The fact Dennis Bradley, in Maria’s words is both black and Hispanic and speaks fluent Spanish is a long way from being Puerto Rican. Neither “Hispanic” nor “Latino” refer to a race, as a person of Latino/Hispanic ethnicity can be of any race.

    Hector knows that and every Puerto Rican in Bridgeport knows that.

    1. So it is so important in this case the individual is Puerto Rican? When a Mexican, Columbian, Peruvian, etc. etc. etc. won’t do. I guess if there were three blacks running, it would not be acceptable to you because they couldn’t possibly be qualified or fighting for the same thing? If they share the same goals isn’t that enough? Maybe a few Muslims should be on the board. Maybe they feel nobody cares about their kids. Maybe they need to vote to make Ramadan a legal Holiday as so many children in the Bridgeport schools are Muslim. Maybe Hector should run or maybe Hector feels the Board will be in good hands and a half black and Hispanic fluent speaking in Spanish and an attorney is an excellent candidate. What is the difference if he came from Puerto Rico?

      Donald Day, I am glad Obama is a black man. I think he represents me just fine. I do not share the same ethnicity, life experiences, religion, etc. etc. etc., he represents me and my community of which I am part of many, just fine. So I think if Hector decides not to run, he knows these are good qualified candidates and there are other qualified candidates that will be running with Mayor Finch, MJF I am assuming and Howard Gardner, Charlie Coviello and David Daniels. There will be plenty to choose from.

  14. There is no questioning Obama is black, all one had to do was hear the eulogy he gave Friday at Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. One would think he was a pastor, that’s because of pastor preaching at Trinity United Church Of Christ and Obama’s pastor Jeremiah Wright. That was the greatest speech Obama ever gave, there was something in it for everyone and for America. If you haven’t heard it then you should Google it.

  15. Steven, just read Hector’s post instead of adding your own interpretation into what he is saying. He said it’s important for the Puerto Rican community to be represented on the BBOE.

    What about those words mean anything other than he feels a Puerto Rican should be on the board, not Mexican or any other Hispanic person? I’ll say it again, Hispanic is not a race, Puerto Rican is. Never did he say, intimate or insinuate Bradley wouldn’t be a good candidate, he just said the Hispanics who have the biggest footprint in Bridgeport should be represented on the BBOE.

    1. And Donald Day, I am saying having a Puerto Rican on the board should be the least of “our” problems. However, race baiting and creating division amongst groups is your strong point.

  16. So when Maria put together a slate two years ago it was Andre Baker, Howard Gardner and Dave Hennessey. And this time around it’s Maria, Dennis Bradley and Ben Walker. I’ve got that right. Correct???

  17. I can believe that, because once Joe becomes mayor he will then be telling Maria what he is going to do.
    Joe Ganim was no friend of the BOE when he was mayor. Back then it was the MER and in all his years as mayor he only once spent more than what the MER required. And I am sure Maria researched all of this and was told he has changed and this time it will be different.

  18. I attended the parade today and we had a large Ganim contingent on the corner of Park and Capital Ave. Hector joined us, we hugged each other. Interestingly enough, we did not spend one second speaking about this mythical controversy. We all cheered on the participants including Charlie Coviello and the UB float that had MJF on it. Finch and Joe were separated by about 20 feet. As they approached we chanted “win Joe, win.” Finch trotted within inches of us and behaved as if we didn’t exist. The uniformed police officers were clapping for Joe, and we got a lot of the people across the street from us to cheer with us.

    Marilyn Moore and Andre Baker walked in the parade and paused in front of us. You could hear crickets.

  19. Need an afternoon pick-me-up? How about something with crickets?
    Yep, you read that right–those little chirping bugs are now going straight into some foods thanks to how nutritious (and supposedly delicious) they are.
    There’s been quite a bit of buzz about eating our six-legged friends lately, in part because they’re full of iron, protein, B12 and more. The New York Times reports research shows crickets even provide nearly as much calcium as milk.

    1. Donald, I have brought packaged crickets to school to gross out 5th- and 6th-grade students before I explain how different cultures eat different foods including chocolate-covered ants. Maggots are high in protein also. I’ll pass. But preparing for wilderness training in the event of a natural disaster, I’ll take the crickets. Yummy.

  20. I graduated from The Donald Day School of Cultural Understanding where students learn “Hispanic” is a term covering several nations. It’s not a race. That’s why I invented Solounopuedeserelmejordotcom.

    1. Dennis Bradley is candidate McDreamy. This Republican has contributed to his past campaigns in both time and money. He is a candidate worth supporting regardless of party affiliation.

  21. So let’s see if I’ve got this right.
    Joe Ganim is still trying to get the convention nomination? And he is within just a few votes of getting it?
    Is Joe now conceding he doesn’t have the votes?
    Or is Joe willing to go it alone?
    If Maria is too much of a lightning rod, will Joe throw her overboard to save his nomination or will he tell DRC members vote however you want for BOE?
    Very interesting combinations of possible outcomes. As JML would say, TIME WILL TELL.

      1. Ron Mackey, I do not agree with Maria Pereira on many issues and we are clearly supporting different candidates. But I will tell you this. If I were fighting a war, I would want to be in the trenches with her! I do not think she is making decisions for Ganim but I will tell you what, Joe Ganim is very lucky to have Maria on his team. Very … until he pisses her off. She is a pure loyalist and doesn’t need an audience to show she is working. She has a strong presence and people either love her or … you get my drift. When it comes to BOE issues, I think she is pretty astute. I would imagine Joe Ganim does listen to her on some issues. That makes him wise.

        1. Thanks, Steve. I think it is pretty obvious my input is really around education policies. I will also be involved in the canvassing operation because it is my campaign strength. I will be training inexperienced canvassers and teaching them my techniques.

        2. Steve, it’s obvious Maria is making decisions for Joe Ganim, after all she made the decision on who will run with Joe on his ticket for the BOE and he just gave in and said okay.

          1. Ron, for the sake of argument, I will agree. Why wouldn’t Joe Ganim agree? It is a strong slate, They will be getting votes and Joe is not a schmuck. So in this case, you are correct, Joe must be taking her advise and in this case he hit a home run and I am certain Hector was not an issue. So now we move on to Mayor Finch’s announcement in two weeks? I want to hear the Mayor’s speech and I am certain it will be awesome. I am hopeful and excited.

          2. Steve, that’s where you are wrong, Joe Ganim needs to show he is in charge of his campaign and the selection of his slate and he knows who to trust and how to make selections. If he wants to ride on the back of Maria to show the voters we should give him another chance, good luck with that one because she blows things up in a heartbeat. Ganim is not showing leadership and Hector has disappointed me because I truly believed he wanted to make a difference by running.

          3. Ron,
            Right on the money. Joe looks like he is being led by the nose rather than being a leader. And you can be sure the moment Joe says anything Maria interprets as being pro-charter, she will show Joe who’s the boss.
            I will repeat, Joe Ganim sees Bridgeport public schools as a necessary evil.
            When Joe Ganim was mayor there was not a single thing he would not support privatizing. The golf course and WPCA immediately come to mind as well as parks maintenance.
            So is this just another example of what Joe doesn’t want people looking to the past for? It is not just his corrupt acts but anything else you didn’t like.
            And once he gets elected and he sees where the city’s bottom line can improve with charters it will be adios Maria, show me the money.

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