Rev. Smith Goes To City Hall Embracing Faith, Community Service And A Contrarian

Mayor Joe Ganim issues oath to new City Council member Rev. Sara Smith.

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 greeted by City Council President Aidee Nieves.

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.

Pereira, belly dancer
Maria Pereira dances this way, she dances that way.

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.



  1. City Council Comments – March 20, 2023,

    Council members, welcome to spring March 2023, in Bridgeport. The City can likely appreciate the mildness of the winter months, and the savings in Public Work expenses, as the task of setting up a budget for the coming year that begins July 1, 2023.
    Personal welcome to the DTC recommended candidate to join the Council, Sara Smith. Her educational record and lived experience daily place her as well qualified for representation of her neighbors, it appears. Participation in Council sub-committees will likely be welcome by all.
    Tonight, where does the City stand with failed and inactive FAIR HOUSING and FAIR RENT groups in the City? Where is an alternative answer from the Council? Or the primary response from the Mayor? And where is the Affordable Housing statement sought by the Council but unavailable from OPED a month ago?
    On Saturday, April 29, 2023, a conference will be held at Housatonic Community College with national speakers on the Economic Democracy Act (EDA) a concept that promises to uproot systemic poverty and economically empower each and every Bridgeport resident. It features the return of a former Bridgeport resident and public school student who left to serve in the US Air Force, attend UConn, and Law School, who was a civil rights fighter in the South in the sixties and has worked on the material of an economic paradigm shift since then with the Center for Economic and Social Justice in the nation’s capital.
    We do not get to choose our parents, our birthplace, time, or the culture into which we are delivered. Nor do we get to elect, choose, or much discuss the money system that will govern our lives. Attorney Norman Kurland and panel speakers from diverse locations will point to the opportunity for change in a paradigm for sustainable growth and economic empowerment for all from birth. Healing any brokenness of our system is a responsibility of oversight for inequality, injustice, and unfair limitations in the access to capital resources and investments.
    You are invited to the program from 9:00AM-3:00PM. Admission is free. More info including an outline of EDA and registration material is available at Encourage others to come with open minds and ears wide open. Questions will be heard and responded to. The material in the Economic Democracy Act offers solutions to poverty, necessary education of citizens of all ages, and perhaps a reason for each of us to support actual democracy in governance by the actions and voices with more decision makers at the table. Time will tell.
    John Marshall Lee
    Office: 203-259-9642
    Mobile: 203-521-1930


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