Former DA candidate calls out Heidi McCollum for falsely playing ‘first female’ card

Sanam Mehrnia, a Summit County woman, ran for DA as an independent in 2016

The race for district attorney in Colorado’s 5th Judicial District has created the first dust-up of this local campaign season.

Democrats Heidi McCollum and Braden Angel are vying for their party’s nomination. In a campaign email that was associated with a women’s DA candidate forum, McCollum claimed to be the first woman to run for District Attorney in Colorado’s Fifth Judicial District. She’s not, said Sanam Mehrnia, a Summit County woman who ran as an independent in 2016.

Mehrnia called McCollum’s claim “false” and “grossly insulting” in a letter to the editor that was sent to the Vail Daily and the Summit Daily News.

McCollum apologized for her campaign piece’s “lack of clarity.” She said it referred to her participation in a panel of five Democratic women running for District Attorney’s offices across Colorado.

“I am the first woman to be nominated by the Democratic Party in the Fifth Judicial District making it onto the primary ballot for District Attorney,” McCollum said in a statement. “While Ms. Mehrnia ran as an unaffiliated and did, in fact, petition onto the ballot, we’ve still never had a Democratic woman be able to say the same — until now.”

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Angel, McCollum’s Democratic primary opponent, said it’s a matter of integrity.

“I believe that honesty and integrity are of utmost importance in a District Attorney,” Angel said in a statement. “In the current political climate, it is imperative that the community is able to trust and rely upon their elected officials.”

Mehrnia said, “as a female it is insulting for Ms. McCollum to falsely play the “first female card.”

“Heidi McCollum’s boss and direct supervisor, Bruce Brown, was my opponent in 2016 and thus she has actual knowledge that her statement is untrue,” Mehrnia wrote in her letter in which she also voiced her support for Angel. “Ms. McCollum either decided to purposefully ignore/discount my presence and falsely take credit for my achievement or as the result of incompetence, forgot. Either of these possibilities demonstrates that she is not competent to be District Attorney.”

McCollum thanked Mehrnia for speaking up and said women are needed in politics now more than ever in mountain communities and across Colorado to promote the advancement of science, protect the environment and natural resources, support a woman’s right to choose, support marriage equality, and criminal justice reform for rehabilitation before incarceration, and accountability of law enforcement.

“With events over the past week throughout our nation stemming from the murder of George Floyd, we all need to practice speaking up when we see or hear an injustice, no matter how small. Thank you Ms. Mehrnia for speaking up when you saw something that you thought was wrong,” McCollum said.

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