Replacement surfaces in San Luis council race
SAN LUIS, Ariz. — A write-in candidate plans to run for the city council as a possible substitute for a San Luis woman whose level of English fluency caused her to be removed from the ballot.
Juan Castillo, 34, filed nominating petitions with the city on Thursday. He must run as a write-in candidate since the deadline for filing petitions to appear on the ballot has passed.
Supporters of Alejandrina Cabrera are advancing Castillo as a backup candidate in case Cabrera loses her appeal of the ruling by Yuma County Superior Court Judge John Nelson that she is ineligible.
“I have come forward to continue Alejandrina's plans for the city, to inform (voters) about the goals she had and then to pursue them,” he said. “My plan, on the council, is to focus more on security for the city and on youth programs.”
Cabrera was part of a slate of four like-minded candidates hoping to win a majority of seats on the city council in this year's elections, starting with next month's primary.
In December, Mayor Juan Carlos Escamilla filed a special action in Superior Court asking it to determine whether Cabrera had the level of English knowledge required by state law to serve as an elected official. Based on tests performed by a sociolinguistics expert and Cabrera's responses to questions posed in court, Nelson ruled she was not qualified.
In the event Cabrera loses her bid for an appeal in the Arizona Supreme Court, Castillo will take her place on the slate with San Luis businesswoman and former Mayor Nieves Riedel, former Councilman Archibaldo Gurrola and Ricardo Sandoval. Riedel is a political foe of Escamilla.
Castillo, a three-year resident of San Luis, said he has participated in political campaigns with Cabrera in the past but that this is his first attempt at public office.
Jorge Reyes, the coordinator of the four candidates campaigns, said Cabrera's supporters aren't writing off her chances of staying on the ballot, but are backing Castillo as insurance.
Also running are council incumbents Jose Suarez and Gloria Torres, and candidates Matias Rosales, María Ramos, former Mayor Joe Harper and former councilman Marco Antonio Reyes Jr.