The mother whose daughter was killed in a Uvalde school shooting loses her bid for mayor


In the first Uvalde mayoral race since the Rupp Elementary School shooting, former Mayor Cody Smith regained office Tuesday over Kimberly Mata Rubio, a mother who has led calls for stricter gun laws since her daughter was among 19 children killed in the 2022 attack. ..

The race tested the mood of the south Texas city more than a year after one of America’s deadliest mass shootings and a botched police response that remains under criminal investigation. Two teachers were also killed in the attack carried out by a teenage gunman with an AR-style rifle.

Mata Rubio, who pressed Uvalde leaders for answers and transparency after the shooting, has campaigned aimed at uniting the small town still torn by division. Her nomination on the ballot put one of Uvalde’s most outspoken figures and an aggressive supporter of stricter gun laws.

“I will never stop fighting for you Lexi,” Mata Rubio posted on X, formerly known as Twitter. “I meant it when I said this was just the beginning. After all, I’m not an ordinary mother. I’m Lexie’s mother.”

Instead, voters elected Smith, who served two terms as mayor of Uvalde more than a decade ago. Smith, a local bank executive, last served as Uvalde’s mayor in 2012. His Facebook campaign page called for bringing the community together but did not explicitly mention the shooting.

“We all wanted the same thing — we want this community to recover,” Smith told reporters Tuesday, according to the San Antonio Express-News.

Smith said seeking office again seemed like something he needed to do to help the city. He said he plans to get input from victims’ family members, Uvalde school officials and city leaders to memorialize the 21 lives lost.

Mata Rubio, 34, testified before Congress in support of new gun restrictions and criticized the hesitant police response at the school. She helped launch a non-profit called “Lives Robbed” that advocates for stricter gun laws.

She previously worked as a reporter for the local newspaper, the Uvalde News-Leader. Her campaign signs were a bright shade of yellow, her 10-year-old daughter Lexi’s favorite color.

The campaigns reflected divisions in Uvalde between residents who say they want to move on from the tragedy and others who still demand answers and accountability. The criminal investigation is ongoing into the slow police response at Robb Elementary School, where hundreds of officers rushed to the school on May 24, 2022, but waited for more than an hour before confronting the gunman.

Smith will replace Mayor Don McLaughlin, who has accused state police of a cover-up and blame for not confronting the gunman sooner, and will step down to run as a Republican for a seat in the Texas Legislature.

The elementary school campus is now permanently closed. Last month, the city began construction on a new school in Uvalde.

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