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Candidate confirms she will appeal decision removing her from ballot
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- Court battle shaping up over San Luis candidate’s eligibility - Jan. 6, 2012
- Candidate’s English fluency to be further tested - Jan. 13, 2012
- Attorneys: Fluency lawsuit infringes on candidate’s rights - Jan. 22, 2012
- San Luis candidate removed from ballot (with video from hearing) - Jan. 25, 2012
SAN LUIS, Ariz.— While conceding she needs to improve her command of English, a San Luis resident confirmed Saturday she will appeal a court ruling that she lacks the language skills required to serve on the city council.
Alejandrina Cabrera said her attorneys are seeking an appeal before the Arizona Supreme Court of Yuma County Superior Court Judge John Nelson's order removing her from the ballot of the March primary election.
“I can't give details about the appeal, but the judge's decision was not just,” Cabrera said. “He can't take away my constitutional rights, and if he takes away my rights, he takes away the rights of the community.”
The New York Times first reported on Twitter Friday night her plans to appeal.
In a case that's brought national and international attention to the Arizona border city, San Luis Mayor Juan Carlos Escamilla last month filed a special action in Superior Court asking for a determination on whether she had the English skills necessary to serve on the council.
State law requires elected officials in Arizona to know English, but Cabrera's attorneys have argued that the law does not define what is or isn't proficiency in the language.
Nelson's ruling on Wednesday came after a sociolinguistics expert testified that in tests he administered to Cabrera, she did not demonstrate the level of proficiency needed to serve on the council. Nelson said he based his opinion also on Cabrera's failure to respond correctly to questions posed to her.
Cabrera was one of 10 candidates who had filed nominating petition signatures to run for four council seats in the March primary election.
As her attorneys seek an appeal, Cabrera said she will continue campaigning for three other candidates with whom she was planning to run on a slate for the council seats — San Luis businesswoman and former Mayor Nieves Riedel, former Councilman Archibaldo Gurrola, and Ricardo Salazar.
She said her language skills are adequate in a border city where Spanish is used as frequently as, and maybe more frequently than, English.
“The specialist (sociolinguistics expert. William Eggington, who tested Cabrera and testified in Superior Court) is right that I have to continue (studying English), but I don't agree that my English is not satisfactory for (the council). I clearly have the ability to be a councilwoman here. I'm not (campaigning for) the White House.
“I know that many people know both languages, but the truth is that, whether we like or not, all the people speak Spanish. If you go the market, if you go to the post office, if you go to pay your water bill, nobody speaks to you in English.”
Cabrera said that owing to all attention her case has gotten from news media around the nation, her attorneys received a call from Rosetta Stone offering her a free English instruction.