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Latino Daily News

Saturday August 18, 2012

Command of English Necessary to Hold Office in Arizona, Says State Supreme Court

Command of English Necessary to Hold Office in Arizona, Says State Supreme Court

Photo: Alejandrina Cabrera

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Someone wanting to run for public office in Arizona can be kept off the ballot if he or she lacks a sufficient command of English, the state’s Supreme Court said Friday.

Elected officials must be able to communicate with constituents and the general public in English without the assistance of an interpreter, Chief Justice Robert Bruntinel wrote.

A public official also needs the ability to read and write English, the court said, providing an explanation of its February decision to uphold a lower court ruling that barred Alejandrina Cabrera from running for city council in the border community of San Luis.

The issue arose last December, when San Luis Mayor Juan Carlos Escamilla asked the Yuma County courts to determine if Cabrera had sufficient command of English to serve as a city councilor.

A court-appointed evaluator said that Cabrera, who graduated from an Arizona high school, was not proficient enough in English to fulfill the responsibilities of a council member.

Cabrera also had trouble responding to some questions put to her in English by the county judge who heard the case.

The Supreme Court said its decision would not stop Cabrera from seeking public office in the future if she improves her command of English.