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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Mother of Uvalde shooting victim loses mayor’s race to political veteran


Kimberly Mata-Rubio, center, gets ready to take a group photo with her family and friends after her mayoral campaign kickoff event in Uvalde, Texas, on Sept. 2, 2023.

By Edgar Sandoval


Kimberly Mata-Rubio, whose daughter was killed last year in a mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, lost a special election to become mayor of a city that has struggled with divisions in the aftermath of the tragedy, The Associated Press reported.


Cody Smith, a former mayor of Uvalde, will return to the office after running a campaign that called for honoring the lives of the 19 students and two teachers who died in the massacre, while focusing on moving the city forward.


Smith, a senior vice president at First State Bank of Uvalde, was first elected to the City Council in 1994, and then as mayor in 2008 and in 2010. In his campaign, he also called for better communications among police agencies and mobilizing volunteers from the community to help those in need.


During her campaign, many voters responded to Mata-Rubio’s many tributes to the daughter she lost, Lexi Rubio, whose image and favorite color were enshrined on some of her mother’s campaign materials. Mata-Rubio demanded more accountability for the slow police response to the shooting and advocated stronger gun laws, in addition to calling for more attention to fixing roads and adding stop signs.


In third place was an art teacher, Veronica Martinez, who did little campaigning.


Mata-Rubio and Martinez had been vying to become the first woman and the third Latino to lead the city of 15,000, where Hispanic residents are a majority.


The special election was called after the current mayor, Don McLaughlin, announced that he was leaving City Hall to run for a Texas House seat. Smith’s term will last one year; another election for a full four-year term will happen next year.


During the midterm elections, voters in Uvalde County, which also includes six small towns, similarly chose not to support politicians who called for police accountability and more restrictions on guns, delivering a political blow to the victims’ families who had campaigned on their behalf.


Smith will take office on Nov. 14.


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