Texas

Uvalde elects former mayor Cody Smith as its next leader in the shadow of the Robb Elementary shooting

The community chose an insider and former mayor to serve the remaining year on the term of Don McLaughlin, who is running for the Texas House of Representatives.

Cody Smith (center) along with Kimberly Mata-Rubio (right) and Veronica Martinez (left)
Kayla Padilla

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UVALDE — The city of Uvalde on Tuesday elected Cody Smith to be its next mayor.

The community chose an insider and former mayor to serve the remaining year on the term of Don McLaughlin, who is running for the Texas House of Representatives.

Smith is a senior vice president at First State Bank of Uvalde. He spent more than a decade on city council and was first elected mayor in 2008.

"I’m just very honored to be elected mayor again,” he said. “I’m just looking forward to representing this entire community."

Smith garnered 1,667 votes, while Kimberly Mata-Rubio garnered 837 votes. Art teacher Veronica Martinez received 46 votes.

Supporters of Kimberly Mata-Rubio await the results of the mayoral election on Tuesday, November 7th, 2023.

Mata-Rubio is the mother of Lexi Rubio, one of 19 children killed in the Robb Elementary School shooting in May 2022.

She said that despite the loss, her work to honor Lexi will continue.

"I want people to know that I have felt their love and support and I appreciate it. And I am excited about the momentum we have, not just here in this town, but as a country," she said.

Yellow shirts lined up outside Uvalde's courthouse anxiously awaiting results. Family members of the victims of the Robb tragedy wore "Kim for Uvalde" shirts.

As they awaited results, the crowd celebrated an uptick in voter turnout. Many said they hoped it would be repeated in future elections.

Mata-Rubio said she is considering another campaign for mayor in 2024.

Meanwhile, residents hoped their next leader would help the community heal following more than a year of tumult related to the failed law enforcement response to the shooting.

"Focus on improving the law enforcement and trying to regain the result, because after that, the trust was lost," said Abel, who asked to go by his first name because of tension in the community over still unanswered questions related to the shooting. "Not only law enforcement, but the city too and other entities."

Smith will take over for McLaughlin at a time where investigations into the shooting are almost complete.

The city of Uvalde has filed a lawsuit against District Attorney Christina Mitchell over records she possesses that could hold the answer to whether lives of students and teachers could have been saved had law enforcement acted faster.

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