Some Tranquility–Life On School Board Post Pereira, Members Weigh In

File image: Maria Pereira in City Council chambers.

It was noisy. It was acrimonious. It was inflammatory. On some nights a plain old food fight. While sometimes entertaining, it was often exhausting for the Board of Education during Maria Pereira’s tenure on the nine-member elected body.

It’s been just over a year since Pereira’s conversion to the City Council where she is now coalition-challenged among 19 peers most of whom don’t like her fiery brand of engagement. It led to City Council President Aidee Nieves stripping Pereira of all committee assignments.

So what’s life on the school board post Pereira? Two members respond, the Chair John Weldon, who was often on the receiving end of Pereira’s stinging glossary, and Joe Sokolovic who embraced some common voting issues with her as a minority bloc.

File image of Chris Taylor, left, with fellow school board members John Weldon and Jessica Martinez.


The Bridgeport Board of Education that took shape as a result of the 2019 election has shaped up quite well and has become focused and productive.

Gone are meetings lasting until 10:00 or 11:00 at night. Gone are meetings that degenerated into shouting matches over differing political ideologies.

Instead, meetings are focused on the real business of the District and the membership of the Board has become a diverse makeup of people with various backgrounds, ethnicities, professional experiences and generational insights.

For the first time in a very long time, the Board is functioning as it should. Over the coming weeks we will be setting our agenda for the coming year, prioritizing our work and deciding what things are really important to us. We’re being proactive instead of reactive–again–something that hasn’t happened in a very long time. All of this is because the Board is united in a way it hasn’t been for many years. I’m glad we’re finally able to work together as a team and I’m extremely proud to chair this board as we move into 2021.

Pereira Walker Soko
File image: The school board’s former minority voting bloc Joe Sokolovic, Ben Walker and Maria Pereira in solidarity.


I can only speak as an individual board member and my observations. Some things have changed while others remain the same. We are still making headlines for all the wrong reasons.

I still comport myself in the same manner as when she was present. What has changed, however, is people’s responses to my differing opinions. When Ms. Pereira was on the board she and I often voted in lockstep as we have the same stances and issues. Often times my voice was not heard, as some would block out the issue simply because Pereira raised it. I believe this was in response to the abrasive nature of Ms. Pereira’s strong personality and sometimes personal attacks. One person should not be allowed to rent space in people’s head so much so that the business we were elected to do goes undone.

I believe board meetings are more streamlined now that disruptions are kept to a minimum this is due in part to Chairmen Weldon growing into his role and board members for the most giving deference to one another’s opinions.

I see the city council making the same error the board has made. They are putting a lot of energy into Ms. Pereira to no avail. Pereira will not be silenced, and often times is right on point. Instead of complaining about being embarrassed about being called out for poor attendance, try showing up. Instead of whining about being called out for poor parliamentary procedure, learn it and use it. Upset about being called out for something you said in an e-mail? Try not saying it. Etc. Just focus on the people’s work and listen to the message regardless of the messenger. You just might learn something.

While I find Ms. Pereira’s behavior distasteful on a personal level, I would never let it get in the way of doing the people’s business, neither should anybody else. While we still have a ways to go as a board we have grown and would have, or should have grown, with or without her presence.

I wish her and the city council well.



  1. Across America, the BOE is the minor league of politics.
    The BOE is for those who enjoy politics, spending money and publicity but want minimum risk.
    For Maria Pereira it was training school that became conquered territory.
    The new battlefield is the city council where her superiors are already trying to
    conceal her abilities but she’s come too far to turn back now.
    I wish the Connecticut Post would offer her a weekly column.
    She’s a mainstay on OIB and is sorely missed.

  2. I agree with Sokolovic. Especially what he says to those who complain about Maria’s pointing out their shortcomings. They should do what they’re supposed to do instead of complaining about being outed for not doing their jobs.

  3. Joe Sokolovic, I see that you believe in fairy tales, Maria is no Cinderella or Dorothy of the Wizard of Oz. Maria will never get elected to a citywide position because the people who will vote for her are in the 138th district. Now maybe either Trumbull of Shelton would put the 138th district into their town from a secession from Bridgeport.

    1. Never said she did sir. Called it as it was and you in fact proved my point. Does Ms. Pereira’s lease in your head automatically renew? Is she paying market rate? It may be time to evict her. Maybe each time you get ready to write her name a fairy tale could be helpful. Try singing the song “let it go” from Disney’s frozen. I reiterate the problems of the board and the city council cannot and should not be paid at the feet of one person. Or do you think if she disappeared every problem in the city of Bridgeport would disappear?

      1. Sir, it doesn’t matter to me what happens to Maria, her conduct hurts her ability to get anything done on the City Council. She can research any and everything but it means nothing with getting things done on the council. Maybe when she learns how to win friends and influence people or win she learns how to form a coalition with 10 other council members plus herself then she can get things pass but until then nothing.

          1. Maria is a leader whose following is still formulating.
            You’re a follower who’s lost his way.

        1. Ron
          Within limits. If Maria has some good ideas, you should not punish the good citizens of the city of Bridgeport by not approving them just because she didn’t follow your outline.
          You lower your self to her level rather than lifting up the city.

          1. Bob, to a point you are correct but we are talking about politics and especially politics in Bridgeport and its not about the good citizens of the city of Bridgeport but who can get 50% plus one to get something passed. My good friend Donald Day has this saying, “you take your favorite meal and its serve to on a garbage can top, that’s not too appealing,” well that’s what Maria does.

          1. Whenever there’s something to be voted on that Mayor Ganim and Mario Testa want to be passed there be 11 votes from the start and more. Everything of importance must go through Joe and Mario.

      2. Technically, Maria Pereira can be counted as 2 people. How many times must you hear someone say, Maria Pereira has a big mouth? Do you know that when she dies, there will be two caskets–one for her mouth and the other for the rest of her body.

  4. I can remember a piece of legislation that Elaine Pivirotto had submitted and got passed. Afterwards the mayor at the time calls her into his office to “explain” that is not how it is done.
    You need to present it to the administration first, then if the administration agrees, they will presents it but share the credit with you.
    That Ron is BS.


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