(UVALDE, Texas) — Kimberly Mata-Rubio, the mother of Uvalde victim Alexandria “Lexi” Rubio, lost a special election to become mayor in Uvalde, Texas.
Cody Smith was elected as the next mayor of Uvalde, serving a one-year term in the city that has a population of a little more than 15,000. Smith is filling the former mayoral seat of Don McLaughlin, who vacated his position to run for a seat in the Texas House of Representatives. McLaughlin served as mayor since 2014.
Throughout her campaign, Mata-Rubio said her decision to run for mayor was “to be the change I seek,” to honor her daughter who was one of the 21 victims in the Robb Elementary school shooting last year and represent unheard voices in her community, among other initiatives.
“I’m very honored to be elected mayor and I look forward to serving this entire community,” said Smith. “I would like to form a committee to start working with the families, city and the school to build a memorial to honor the 21 victims.”
As the official result was called, Mata-Rubio and Smith were both present outside the offices of the Uvalde Leader-News, a tradition for the town to gather as the newspaper tabulates the results on a whiteboard near the downtown plaza. Mata-Rubio and Smith embraced in a hug, as she and her family congratulated Smith on his newly-elected position.
Mata-Rubio wore a shirt in tribute to her daughter with the words, “I’m not a regular mom, I’m Lexi’s mom.”
“I’m disappointed, of course, but I’m never going to stop fighting for Lexi,” Mata-Rubio told ABC News. “I’ll be working with Cody as Lexi’s mom and a citizen of Uvalde to demand accountability in the city.”
Smith is a senior vice president at the First State Bank of Uvalde and previously held the mayoral post from 2008 to 2012. Smith was elected to the city council in 1995, serving three consecutive, four-year terms.
The ballot included three candidates for mayor, including Smith, Mata-Rubio and Veronica Martinez, an elementary school art teacher.
Mata-Rubio told ABC News that her run for mayor might have come as a surprise to some community members, but said her interest in city government sparked when she reported for the local newspaper, Uvalde Leader-News. She currently works in ad sales for the newspaper.
Mata-Rubio has become an outspoken advocate against gun violence, supporting new legislation to reform gun laws, testifying before Congress and meeting with legislators at the state and federal level. She is the president of Lives Robbed, a nonprofit founded by multiple families of the Uvalde elementary victims who are advocating to reduce gun violence through legislation.
If elected, Mata-Rubio would have been the first woman and third Hispanic to become Uvalde’s mayor.
“I hope this community can come together and honor the victims the way they deserve,” said Mata-Rubio.
In 2024, there will be another mayoral election for a four-year term.
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