(NEW YORK) — Kimberly Mata-Rubio, whose 10-year-old daughter Alexandria was killed in the Uvalde school shooting last year, recently announced she is running for mayor of the city – a decision, she says, that comes from both honoring her daughter’s legacy and wanting “to be the change I seek.”
“Right now, after fighting at the federal and state level, I think it starts on the ground up and in my own community,” Mata-Rubio told “GMA3.”
Mata-Rubio’s daughter, Alexandria, was among the 19 third and fourth graders and two teachers who were killed on May 24, 2022, after a gunman opened fire inside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.
Since then, Mata-Rubio has joined a chorus of voices urging officials to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Just weeks after the shooting, the grieving mom converged with other Uvalde families in Washington, D.C., for a rally and march to the Capitol.
Mata-Rubio was overcome with emotion as she addressed the crowd that day, pleading with lawmakers: “What if the gunman never had access to an assault weapon? I want that question to be the first thing to cross their mind in the morning and the last thought they have before they go to bed.”
A year later, Mata-Rubio says she believes that running for mayor gives her a new platform to amplify that call to action.
“I think it gives me a chance to share my story first with my community and changing their minds and hearts. Once they really hear and resonate with my story,” Mata-Rubio told “GMA3.”
Mata-Rubio is also calling for reform in the Uvalde Police Department, whose officers faced criticism after deciding to wait more than an hour to mount a counterassault against the shooter, who was holed up in two classrooms.
“I think that we need to review the final report and decide whose failures will determine if they’re fired or they stay with the police department. But also, policy changes. What are we doing about the officers that we’re hiring? What are we doing to ensure that they’re trained for situations like this? So, there’s several things I’m looking into,” Mata-Rubio said.
Mata-Rubio, who works in ad sales at the local newspaper, the Uvalde Leader-News, is seeking the position being vacated by Don McLaughlin, who has been Uvalde’s mayor since 2014. McLaughlin is stepping down to run for a Texas House seat. The Uvalde special mayoral election race is for a one-year term. After it ends, there will be another mayoral election, which will be for a usual four-year term.
Also running for mayor is Cody Smith, a senior vice president at the First State Bank of Uvalde. Smith previously held the post and was mayor from 2008 to 2012. Prior to being mayor, he was a member of the city council elected in 1995 and served for 12 years.
“I would come to the position with some experience,” said Smith, “[…] and then I just want to do anything I can to help this community, you know, heal and, you know, and prosper.”
Smith told ABC News that his first initiative would be building a committee consisting of families, city, county and school district members to work toward a permanent memorial to honor the lives lost at Robb Elementary.
If elected, Mata-Rubio would be the first woman and third Hispanic to become Uvalde’s mayor. That’s something she says would make her daughter proud.
“She was a very confident little girl. She was a leader, and I’m really trying to harness that power within her for myself and honoring her with action,” Mata-Rubio said.
“She looked up to so many women in power. We had conversations about AOC (Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York), about (Vice President) Kamala Harris. I think that she’d be proud of me,” Mata-Rubio said.
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