Candidate may appeal removal from council ballot due to English proficiency

January 27, 2012

A prospective candidate for city council in a small Arizona border town will decide by Monday whether to appeal a court ruling that removed her from the ballot based on her poor English proficiency.  From Yuma, Arizona, Michelle Faust has more.

MICHELLE FAUST: Lawyers for Alejandrina Cabrera are considering whether to appeal Yuma County Superior Judge John Nelson's decision to remove her as a candidate for the San Luis City Council. Judge Nelson has ordered Cabrera's name off the city's March primary ballot after sociolinguistics expert William Eggington reported to the court that Cabrera did not have enough English language proficiency to serve on the city council. The judge's decision is based on state law that requires public officials have a proficiency in English. San Luis Mayor Juan Carlos Escamilla filed the suit in December. Cabrera's lawyer, John Minore says Escamilla's opposition to Cabrera is personal.

JOHN MINORE: The City of San Luis did not file the lawsuit. They had a qualified elector, which just so happens to be the mayor that's been subject to two recalls by the defendant here, Miss Cabrera. And the City of San Luis has illegally spent city money trying to influence an election, which is illegal; there's a state law in point.

FAUST: Escamilla denies his objection is retaliatory.

JUAN CARLOS ESCAMILLA: The city had an interest of making sure that only qualified electors are eligible to be on the ballot.

FAUST: Minore says the linguist lacks an understanding of a border region where both English and Spanish are commonly used.


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