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San Luis candidate removed from ballot
Judge cites lack of English fluency
A candidate for the city council in San Luis, Ariz., has been removed from the city’s primary election ballot for lack of English proficiency.
Yuma County Superior Judge John Nelson ordered Alejandrina Cabrera’s name stricken from the March ballot on Wednesday after a court hearing that began in the morning and continued into the night.
Nelson’s ruling was based on Cabrera’s failure to demonstrate English proficiency in tests administered by a sociolinguistics expert, as well as her inability to respond to questions posed to her in English in Wednesday’s hearing.
State law requires public office holders in Arizona to know English, but Cabrera’s attorneys argued previously and again on Wednesday that the law does not set specific standards of fluency that candidates must meet.
Sociolinguistics expert William Eggington had presented to the court the results of three different tests he administered to Cabrera: one to measure her English-speaking skill, one to determine if she reads it and one to determine her level of English comprehension.
Nelson had ordered the tests after San Luis Mayor Juan Carlos Escamilla filed a lawsuit in December asking the court to determine if Cabrera’s English skills were sufficient to qualify her under state law to run for a four-year council seat in the city’s March primary election.
According to Eggington’s report, Cabrera’s English skills do not meet the level of language proficiency needed to serve on the council.
Wednesday’s hearing began at 8 a.m. and continued until 1:30 p.m., at which time it was recessed until 5 p.m. The hearing continued until nearly 9 p.m.
In the morning session, Nelson disqualified Glenn Gimbut as the Escamilla’s attorney in the action, ruling that he has a conflict of interest.
Escamilla, who filed the lawsuit not as mayor but as a “qualified elector” of the city, named not only Cabrera as a defendant but the San Luis City Clerk’s Office, which handles filings of candidate nominating petitions for city elections.
The attorneys for Cabrera, John Minore and John Garcia, argued that as Gimbut, also the city attorney for San Luis, had a conflict of interest in representing Escamilla in a legal action against the clerk’s office.
Nelson accepted a motion by Minore and Garcia to disqualify Gimbut.
Cabrera, who in 2011 launched two unsuccessful attempts to recall Escamilla as mayor, was one of 10 candidates to file petitions to run for the council in the March primary election.