UVALDE, Texas (AP) — A Uvalde mother who has pushed for tougher gun laws after her daughter was among the 19 children killed in the Robb Elementary School attack is on the ballot Tuesday in a bid to become mayor of the South Texas town, which was left divided by one of America’s deadliest mass shootings.
Kimberly Mata-Rubio, 34, would become Uvalde’s first female mayor and has talked about charting a new direction for the town of 15,000 residents, where differences persist over how to move forward from the tragedy. That includes continued calls for accountability over the hesitant response by police, who did not confront the teenage gunman for more than an hour.
Running against Mata-Rubio are Cody Smith, a former Uvalde mayor who left office in 2012, and Veronica Martinez, a local elementary school teacher.
This is the first mayoral election in Uvalde since the May 24, 2022, shooting. The gunman carried out the attack in a fourth-grade classroom with an AR-style rifle, a weapon Mata-Rubio has called on lawmakers to ban in the wake of losing her daughter, 10-year-old Lexi. Two teachers were also killed in the shooting.
Since her daughter’s death, Mata-Rubio has became one of Uvalde’s most outspoken parents. She has testified before Congress and helped launch a nonprofit called Lives Robbed that pushes for stricter gun laws.
The winner replace Mayor Don McLaughlin, who intensely criticized Texas state police in the aftermath of the shooting. He is stepping down to run next year as a Republican for a seat in the Texas Legislature.