Former state Sen. Lou Correa has been appointed to the California High-Speed Rail Commission, allowing him to stay in the political mix despite losing the January special election for an Orange County supervisorial seat.

Kevin de Leon, the state Senate’s president pro tem and chairman of its rules committee, announced the appointment, which was made by the committee, in a Wednesday news release.

Correa served in the state legislature from 1998 to 2004. He then took a two-year hiatus to serve on the county Board of Supervisors before returning to the legislature. He termed out as senator in 2014.

Correa’s political trajectory at first seemed headed for the Santa Ana mayor’s seat. He had pulled papers last year to challenge incumbent Mayor Miguel Pulido, but ultimately decided not to run.

He then ran for the county’s first district supervisorial seat vacated by Janet Nguyen after she was elected to the state Senate. But he lost to Andrew Do, former Chief of Staff for Nguyen, by 43 votes in a nail-biter special election that triggered a recount and speculation about a federal Voting Rights Act lawsuit.

Correa said in a Voice of OC interview that he wants to focus on giving businesses owned by disabled veterans a fair shot at high-speed rail project contracts.

Correa had fought to make sure that the project wouldn’t be exempt from the Disabled Veterans Business Enterprise Program, which assists veterans in competing for state contracts. He said he wants to see bureaucrats “not making excuses” and comply with the requirement.

He also said he wants to focus on improving local rail systems between Orange and Los Angeles Counties, lines that are known as the state’s “bookends.”

“It sure would be nice to get from Orange County to downtown Los Angeles in 15 minutes,” Correa said.

As a commissioner, Correa will also get a $100 per diem for attending commission meetings. He said he will donate the money toward college scholarships, including the Santa Ana College Centennial Scholarship Fund.

Please contact Adam Elmahrek directly at aelmahrek@voiceofoc.org and follow him on Twitter: @adamelmahrek

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