(UVALDE, Texas) — Kimberly Mata-Rubio — mother of victim Alexandria “Lexi” Rubio who was killed in the Robb Elementary School massacre last year — announced Thursday she is running for mayor of the community.
Her daughter was among the 19 fourth graders and two teachers who were killed on May 24, 2022 when a gunman attacked Robb Elementary School, the second-deadliest school shooting in American history.
Mata-Rubio is seeking the position being vacated by Don McLaughlin, who has been Uvalde’s mayor since 2014 and stepping down to run for a Texas House seat.
Mata-Rubio joins a field that currently has one other candidate in a special election scheduled for Nov. 7.
“My other children are going to grow up in this community and I want it to be the best it can be for them,” said Mata-Rubio. “There is so much potential. There are things I love about Uvalde — so much history and a rich culture — and I don’t want this town to stay where it is and just be remembered for this tragedy. I want to move forward but I want to bring along our children and those two teachers.”
Mata-Rubio works at the local newspaper, the Uvalde Leader-News. She was at work the day the Robb Elementary shooting took place. The gunman was killed by law enforcement after police made a controversial decision to wait more than an hour to mount a counter-assault against the shooter who was holed up in two classrooms.
Uvalde is a city of 15,000 residents situated 60 miles north of the Mexican border and 80 miles west of San Antonio. The city council announced on Tuesday plans for a special election to replace McLaughlin.
Mata-Rubio told ABC News her campaign may come as a surprise to some Uvaldeans, but says it should be quite the contrary — her interest flourished in local government during her time as a reporter.
She currently serves as president of Lives Robbed, a nonprofit organization created by the families of children killed at Robb Elementary to fight against gun violence through legislative changes. Mata-Rubio has been vocal about her frustration with the local government in the wake of the shooting.
“There is a need to bridge the gap right now. We are a fractured community,” said Mata-Rubio. “That is not the town I know. That is not the town I grew up in. So, I also want to come together because only when we come together is when we are going to be able to evolve.”
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 city, county and school district members to work towards a permanent memorial to honor the lives lost at Robb Elementary.
Both Smith and Mata-Rubio were raised in Uvalde. Smith’s son, a starting middle linebacker for the Uvalde High School football team, will wear the No. 21 jersey this upcoming football season, honoring the 21 lives lost.
The new mayor elected will take office 24 days after Election Day. The term is four years.
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