San Luis asking candidate to prove English proficiency
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SAN LUIS, Ariz. — A candidate for city council might be asked to prove her English proficiency.
On Wednesday, the council approved a motion asking for verification that Alejandrina Cabrera meets a state law requiring any person holding office in the state, county or city to speak, write and read English.
The action originated from a Dec. 14 complaint made by former mayor Guillermina Fuentes, who alleged that Cabrera is not fluent in English and asked the council to act on it. Fuentes was a member of a political group headed by Nieves Riedel.
“I interpreted everything to Alejandrina because in many cases she did not understand what was being said,” Fuentes said.
Cabrera could not be reached for comment as of press time.
Mayor Juan Carlos Escamilla said the purpose of the motion is to determine if state law applies in the case of Cabrera.
“We instructed the administration and the city attorney to investigate what is required and to consider the case. We do not know where it will go.”
According to Escamilla, if the case proceeds, the city will act quickly in the legal process so it is resolved before ballots are printed for the March elections.
He said there was no political motivation behind the initiative and the city only seeks to establish precedency for future cases.
However, Escamilla stressed that English fluency is required not only by law but by the nature of the work and council activities.
“I cannot speak for what was done or not done in the past. I can speak for the future and what it stands for in this community. We are not a little ranch, we are a large community. We represent a lot and need to be prepared.
“A position like this requires a person to have minimal understanding (of English) in order to read resolutions and other documents. It's a requirement and it must be obeyed.”
City Attorney Glenn Gimbut explained the motion could result in a court order asking Cabrera to verify her English abilities. “We will ask the judge for an early court date to litigate this case, and we hope it will be in the next 30 days.”
Gimbut added that the city might ask a linguistics expert to test Cabrera.