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McCollum: Why I’m the best candidate for district attorney

Heidi McCollum
Special to the Daily
Heidi McCollum has been the assistant district attorney in Eagle County since 2013.

How do you know who is really the best for the job? And, does self-adulation really work in a political campaign? I was asked to write an op-ed on why I think I’m the best candidate for the position of district attorney for the 5th Judicial District. Bragging about one’s personal and professional achievements has never been my personal style, and I’ll not change who I am now just because I’m in a political race. So how do I then answer the question, “why do I think I’m the best candidate?”   

Growing up in this community was amazing, and I’ve had a front-row seat in the grandstands to watch this valley develop into a world-class destination. This is and always has been my community. Making sure it continues to grow and prosper should be a part of every community members’ hope.

District attorneys have a role in that hope. We are charged with doing justice. The best way any prosecutor can achieve justice is to listen to and know their community. 

When, as a prosecutor, you work with a victim, you’re seeing that person at a terrible time in their life. They’ve been wronged, hurt, abused, the list goes on. It is imperative that a prosecutor be able to form a relationship with a victim, and it is just as important to ensure that the constitutional rights of defendants are always protected. The key is balance. Knowing what the right balance is in any one case has the potential for lifelong impact on victims, and defendants, and communities.

Working with victims, I continue to be amazed at the strength and fortitude they show me. Witnessing their frustrations, their anger, and ultimately their healing throughout the process of enduring long and arduous procedures of the criminal justice system have humbled me beyond words.  I am brought to tears still when I recall the vicious attack at the Brush Creek Saloon when a patron tried to beat the bartender to death. 

After working together for over a year, the victim said “thank you” to me when her perpetrator was convicted of attempted murder, but it was I who needed to thank her for showing me what courage really meant. I was, and am honored to have been lucky enough to work with her and see her determination and grit to survive, literally.  Victims are far more than just victims — they are members of our community, they are our neighbors, our teachers, our grocery store employees, our friends of friends, and they are above all, survivors. They have so much to teach us. 

I have also been humbled to see how selfless our local police officers can be. While every single law enforcement officer working in this country today is under tremendous scrutiny, and appropriately so, I have seen our law enforcement officers demonstrate kindness and compassion in the face of turmoil, chaos, and anger from those around them. I have watched them de-escalate volatile situations and avoid arrests. I have seen them listen to and show compassion to the individuals they come in contact with in our community.  I have also seen these same officers spat upon, cursed at, and berated. The ability to keep a cool head and not react to this type of behavior impresses me no end, and I thank them for their many examples showing me such composure.

My parents taught me never to stop improving in life. I try every day to be a better person than I was the day before, to learn something new every day, to do my job better today than I did it yesterday, and to push myself further than I did the day before. 

So why am I the best candidate for DA? Because being good at your job as a prosecutor means you never stop listening to those who have been wronged through acts of violence; you never stop demanding accountability from law enforcement; you never stop being vigilant about the constitutional rights guaranteed by our Constitution, and you never stop learning from the examples of those around you.

Heidi S. McCollum is an assistant district attorney who is running for district attorney for Colorado’s 5th Judicial District, which encompasses Eagle, Lake, Summit and Clear Creek counties. To learn more, go to http://www.HeidiForDA.com.


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