After Tragic Loss, Uvalde Mother Pursues Mayoral Seat

by Ethan Kim
Uvalde mayoral election

In the humid dawn of a Texas day, Kimberly Mata-Rubio is preparing for two significant challenges in Uvalde to honor her late daughter Lexi, a victim of the Robb Elementary School tragedy in 2022.

Her day begins with a commemorative charity run dedicated to Lexi’s memory, followed by a more formidable endeavor — her mayoral campaign in a community still reeling from one of the nation’s most horrific mass shootings and the subsequent police missteps, which are under ongoing scrutiny.

“Every conversation with my children reinforces our shared conviction that Lexi’s legacy is now our guiding force, compelling us to act in her memory,” Mata-Rubio remarked.

Come Tuesday, the electorate of Uvalde will appoint a new mayor for the first time since the dreadful episode in May 2022, which claimed the lives of 19 children and two educators. This election will serve as a barometer of the town’s readiness to either turn a page or seek a reckoning for the losses endured.

Nationally, kin of gun violence victims have stepped into the political arena, with varying degrees of success. In Colorado, a bereaved father secured a state senate seat on his second attempt after an initial defeat. Congresswoman Lucy McBath, who also tragically lost her 17-year-old son, succeeded in her congressional bid in 2018.

For Mata-Rubio, vying to become Uvalde’s first female mayor, the campaign involves persuading this town of 15,000 to embrace a new direction.

Previously, Uvalde County’s electorate dismissed Beto O’Rourke for governor and a bereaved father’s write-in campaign for county commissioner. The Texas Legislature later dismissed an appeal from Mata-Rubio and other parents to raise firearm purchase age limits — a measure they believe might have thwarted the shooting.

Now 34, Mata-Rubio stands as a contender in an open mayoral race against two other hopefuls: a former Uvalde mayor and an educator.

Madelynn Mize, a local teacher yet to decide her vote, expressed, “It’s imperative now, more than ever, that not just a few, but all of us commit to the well-being of our children.”

Mata-Rubio’s bid for mayor is an extension of the advocacy that has defined the period following her indescribable loss. The calamity transformed her from a reticent reporter at the Uvalde Leader-News into a vocal advocate for stringent gun control, including an appearance before Congress. She openly criticized the hesitant approach of law enforcement on the day of the shooting.

Her campaign, under the banner “Moving Forward, Together,” aims to involve all community members in the decision-making process, reflecting her commitment to inclusivity. In Uvalde, where about 20% of the population lives below the poverty line, her pledge is to ensure representation for all.

Following the commemorative Lexi Legacy 5K run, Mata-Rubio continued her campaign efforts, going door-to-door to engage with the community. During one such encounter, an elderly resident crossed the street to greet her, highlighting her youth. Meanwhile, another resident demonstrated support by allowing her to display a campaign sign alongside that of her opponent.

“Her candidacy resonates because of her connection to the community and her deep understanding of the sorrow caused by this tragedy,” noted Brandon Rottinghaus, a political science professor.

Her opponents, including former Mayor Cody Smith, who declined to comment, and Veronica Martinez, another educator, have their views on the town’s division and the path to recovery.

The eve of the election found Mata-Rubio and her husband commemorating what would have been Lexi’s 12th birthday, an occasion marked with balloons and memories at the town square.

On the day of the race, tributes to Lexi were omnipresent — from her preferred Starbucks beverage being served to yellow wristbands and music echoing her taste.

Mata-Rubio remains steadfast, “As a mother and advocate, I’ll never cease fighting. As a mayoral candidate, my focus is unifying our community. Progress hinges on our collective resolve.”

Longtime resident Kenneth Woods looks forward to potential changes under Mata-Rubio’s leadership, emphasizing the need for community support to facilitate such transformation.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Uvalde mayoral election

Who is Kimberly Mata-Rubio?

Kimberly Mata-Rubio is a mother from Uvalde, Texas, who is running for mayor to honor her daughter Lexi, a victim of the Robb Elementary School shooting in 2022.

What inspired Mata-Rubio to run for mayor?

The tragic loss of her daughter in the school shooting and the desire to ensure such tragedies are prevented in the future inspired her to become an advocate for tougher gun laws and to seek the mayoral position to unify and lead her community towards healing and change.

What is significant about the upcoming Uvalde mayoral election?

This election is the first since the 2022 school shooting, serving as a pivotal moment for the town to decide on maintaining the status quo or seeking change in the wake of the tragedy.

How has Mata-Rubio been involved in advocacy since the shooting?

Mata-Rubio has become a vocal advocate for stricter gun control, including testifying before Congress and publicly criticizing the slow response of law enforcement during the shooting.

What does Mata-Rubio hope to achieve if elected as mayor?

As mayor, Mata-Rubio aims to bring the Uvalde community together to heal and make progress, ensuring all residents, regardless of background or income, have a voice in the town’s future. Her platform includes a focus on community unity and stronger safety measures.

Who are the other candidates running for mayor in Uvalde?

The other candidates include a former mayor of Uvalde and a local teacher. Each has their own perspective on how to address the town’s division and move forward after the tragedy.

What are some ways the community is honoring the victims of the Robb Elementary shooting?

The community has organized commemorative events like the Lexi Legacy 5K run, and there are public memorials where residents can pay their respects. Campaign efforts by candidates like Mata-Rubio also center around remembering the victims and advocating for systemic changes.

More about Uvalde mayoral election

  • Uvalde Leader-News
  • Robb Elementary School Shooting
  • Testimony Before Congress
  • Gun Control Advocacy
  • Uvalde Mayoral Election 2023
  • Texas Legislature and Gun Laws
  • Memorial for Shooting Victims
  • Uvalde Community Healing Initiatives

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SarahK November 4, 2023 - 12:59 pm

i read the article twice and it hits hard every time… these stories need to be told, and changes need to happen, we just keep seeing them over and over again

Mike_johnson November 4, 2023 - 9:38 pm

can’t imagine what it must be like for that community, but having someone like Mata-Rubio stepping up might just be what’s needed to make a real change

ElleB November 5, 2023 - 1:56 am

mata-Rubio’s strength is something else… to lose your child and then fight for a whole community thats leadership right there

Tommy87 November 5, 2023 - 8:18 am

It’s tough to see people still living with this pain but also trying to make a difference, hope she makes it as mayor and actually brings about some change

Linda Simmons November 5, 2023 - 10:00 am

Wow just heartbreaking reading about what these parents are going through, it’s inspiring to see them channelling their grief into action though


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