GUANAJUATO, Mexico, It was about noon on a Friday in May when Carmen Ortiz received the telephone call that changed her life: Her husband, Jose Remedios, had been murdered on leaving a political rally and someone had to replace him as the candidate for mayor in the central Mexican town of Apaseo el Also.

From home I heard the shots. I had a hunch. I called, but he didn’t answer, Ortiz said in an interview with EFE, obviously keeping the events of that horrible day in the forefront of her thoughts.

Her husband was the candidate of the leftist Morena � led by the eventual winner of the presidential contest, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador � to be mayor of the town of 60,000 in Guanajuato state, but two armed men ended that plan, and his life.

Remedios was one of almost 100 candidates murdered during the electoral campaign ahead of the July 1 elections amid a spiral of violence perpetrated by organized crime.

With his death, the members of the Morena campaign team in Apaseo el Also had to deal with what they had never expected: they needed a replacement to contest the election.

I told a friend that it should be him, but he responded that the team had selected me and that the people were asking for me, said Ortiz, still surprised over the turn of events.

The widow had to reflect carefully on the situation but ultimately she gathered the strength and the determination to accept: More than anyone, I knew the dream that (my husband) had. So I accepted, to fulfill his ideals, she said.

Ortiz had accompanied Remedios on some of his campaign trips around the municipality and, she said, she had become soaked in the idea of serving the public that her husband preached about, and that helped her to overcome the fear of stepping into his shoes.

There are two kinds of fear: the one that paralyzes you and the one that makes you stay active. … I opted for the one that activates you, she said firmly.

Ortiz said that the fear gave her the strength and courage to keep moving forward, a determination that she said was reinforced when she saw that the citizens of the town gave her an excellent reception in her new role.

And on election day, Ortiz won the mayorship with more than 50 percent of the votes, dethroning the conservative and locally powerful National Action Party.