City faith leader Sara Smith, senior minister of Bridgeport’s United Congregational Church, was overwhelmingly backed by City Council members Monday night to fill the vacated West Side seat of Marcus Brown who now represents Connecticut’s 127th State House District in the General Assembly.
The one no vote was Maria Pereira who postures loathsome to pastors in elected positions, irrespective of the politics-in-the-pulpit zeitgeist that led the civil rights movement, opened up doors of opportunities, provided a voice for the oppressed: black, white, brown, women and other demographic groups.
Sara Smith is not the first faith leader to serve on the council. There are many others.
To Pereira’s way of thinking an enterprising community organizer from a few thousands years ago wouldn’t be allowed on the City Council. Meet my friend Jesus. “I’m sorry Mr. Christ, I don’t care they say you walk on water, but no.”
Fast forward: say hello to my friend Martin. “Mr. King, you seem like a nice fella. Take your dream elsewhere.”
Pereira’s paradoxical persona is a study in political-pontificating contradictions. Never, ever, she declared would she support a candidate who backed charter schools. No how, no way embrace that dastardly Dennis Bradley, the former state senator, whom she described “unethical, dishonest, sleazy.” Gee, why the reversal? There are other examples.
Pereira didn’t always knob this slam-door position about politics in the pulpit. Several years ago a young local minister Herron Gaston published lyrical commentaries on OIB about his community work. Pereira was at once impressed. This, she declared, is an intelligent person who should be involved in politics.
Then Pereira’s mentor, retired Superior Court Judge Carmen Lopez who is certainly devoted to her church wrote cautionary OIB commentaries about combining ministry and elected office. Fair enough. There are other sides to the argument.
Pereira changed her tune.
Last year Herron Gaston defeated Bradley, under federal indictment for alleged election fraud, in a Democratic primary on his way to a general election victory. Pereira, in a confounding reversal, announced, “I know this sounds a little nuts” rationalizing her support for Bradley.
Pereira has found a way, on occasion, to temper her historic misanthropy with plaudits in advance of professional condemnation, as she did Monday night spreading accolades about Smith and the sun-kissed application process West Side District Leader Tom Gaudett set in motion to fill Brown’s seat, before voting no.
Is your life simply a slave to your profession?
Certainly not in Smith’s case.
She’s highly credentialed with a determined love for the city. In addition to her ministry on North Avenue, she is president of nOURish Bridgeport, a food-centered destination featuring an indoor hydroponic farm in the East End. She also has a degree from University of Houston Law Center, as well as an undergrad degree in psychology, something that certainly may come in handy in the unique world of Bridgeport politics.
No one knows how Smith’s tenure on the council will turn out. But maybe, just maybe, Maria’s myopia will take on another whiplash position shift.
She’s done so plenty of times.