Judge tosses candidate over English skills

Jan. 27, 2012 at 12:21 AM

YUMA, Ariz., Jan. 27 (UPI) -- A judge in Arizona has ruled a woman whose native language is Spanish does not have the English skills needed to hold municipal office.

Lawyers for Alejandrina Cabrera said they were considering an appeal of Superior Court Judge John Nelson's decision, The New York Times reported. Nelson said Monday Cabrera should not be on the ballot for city council in San Luis, a community on Arizona's border with Mexico.

"Obviously, we're disappointed, although the judge acknowledged that there's no precedent for him to follow," lawyer John S. Garcia said.

William G. Eggington, a language expert at Brigham Young University in Utah, testified during Wednesday's hearing in Yuma County he does not believe Cabrera has the English proficiency to participate in council business. He described her English as "basic survival level."

San Luis Mayor Carlos Escamilla challenged Cabrera's candidacy in December, filing a lawsuit. Cabrera has twice led recall drives against the mayor.

The 2010 Census reported that almost 90 percent of San Luis residents speak a language other than English at home, CNN said. For the vast majority, including Cabrera, that language is Spanish.

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