Friendswood may vote on official language

In what I consider a baffling move, Friendswood City Councilman Chris Peden is pursuing a proposal that attempts to institute an official language (English) for official city business.

As reported by the Houston Chronicle:

Friendswood City Councilman Chris Peden intends to pursue a proposal that would let voters decide whether English should be the city’s official language.

Peden said he plans to ask City Council in February to approve having the measure go before voters as a potential amendment to the city charter during the May 12 election.

If City Council approves Peden’s request, the proposal would be placed on the ballot.

On Jan. 15, the city’s charter review committee presented 16 potential amendments to City Council, none of which related to making English the city’s official language.

Mayor David Smith said he expects City Council to discuss in February the charter amendments that will be presented to voters.

Smith and councilmembers Laura Ewing and Mel Measeles oppose Peden’s proposal, which states that City Council and city employees shall conduct official city business in English. The proposal, however, does not prevent them from using another language when doing so.


The proposal says that every person in Friendswood is entitled to be able to communicate with City Council or city employees in English, to receive information from or contribute information to city employees in English, and to be notified of official orders in English.

“This says that 100 percent of the business of the city of Friendswood, the municipal government of Friendswood, will be done in English,” Peden said. “If it needs to be done in another language for any purpose that the council or administration deems necessary, it will be printed in that additional language, but we will never do anything in let’s just say Spanish that we haven’t already done in English.”

Additionally, the proposal says it is not to be used to discriminate against or restrict the rights of any person, or to discourage or prevent the use of languages other than English in any nonofficial capacity.


I didn’t learn to speak Spanish until I was ten. My parents wanted me to be bilingual, and so I was educated in Spanish. I speak, read and write in both English and Spanish. I am bilingual.

Though my mother was born in Mexico, she moved to the US when she was three. Her Spanish is laughable. She only learned when she married my Dad.

My Father was a migrant worker when he was a kid. To the day he died he spoke with a heavy accent and there were words he just never was able to pronounce correctly. But he built a business, a successful business, and he never let language be a stumbling block.

No one in my immediate family would be affected by this… but I don’t understand this proposal. It makes no sense to me.

Author: Paloma Cruz

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