Correction: Pete Wilson was running for reelection as governor of California, not for reelection in the 46th district. This detail has been revised, Oct. 1.
Correa spoke to The Panther before making an on-campus speech at the Undocumented Student Conference.
“I once dated a girl from Orange High School. I guess you can say I still have a broken heart,” said Lou Correa, a long-time Orange County resident and House Representative of the 46th district.
Correa has served in the House of Representatives for the 46th district – which contains Anaheim, Orange and Santa Ana – since 2017. He was previously a California state senator from 2006 to 2014. Correa got involved with politics in 1994 when Governor Pete Wilson was running for reelection with a focus on Proposition 187. Proposition 187 – known as the Save Our State initiative – was a state-run citizenship test that prohibited illegal immigrants from using services like non-emergency health care and public education in California.
As the son of immigrants – his mother cleaned hotel rooms across from Disneyland and his father was manufacturer at the local paper mill – Correa has seen how “immigrants enrich and are an essential part of the United States economy.”
Correa was shocked that Proposition 187 passed with a majority 59 percent vote. He felt the outcome didn’t represent reality, but claimed it was because Latinos were not a part of the political system.
“My goal was to represent those communities and run on a strong platform of immigrant rights. People told me that I was not going to win because I was a Latino running in a very Republican district. But it wasn’t a ‘race thing,’” Correa said. “I grew up in Anaheim, I went to school and played sports with kids who were not Latinos and we all were very good friends. I told people ‘I can give Latinos, they will actually vote.’”
A Congressman since 2017, Correa has prioritized housing, safe streets, affordable college and health care. He reflects on how society should invest in the future to guarantee good paying jobs for future generations.
When Correa attended school at the “Harvard of the West Coast,” California State University, Fullerton, he attended college at no cost. As a father to four children currently in college, Correa explained how he still struggles to pay their college tuition, which has become one of Correa’s biggest platforms in his campaign as he has advocated for students to be able to file bankruptcy for college debt.
“It breaks my heart to see kids struggling to pay for college. It’s not fair to me that the generation before me made it affordable for us to go to college and this generation is not doing that,” Correa said.
Although Correa plans on having a formal running for re-election in 2020, he said he “always campaigns year round by doing the job of (his) constituents.”
“I am a person who has lost two races in my life. You learn more from losses than you do winnings. In winning, you learn what you do right, but in losses you learn the dangers of doing things wrong,” Correa said. “I love to be in the community, walking door to door and getting to know the neighborhood and streets. I get paid to do what I love to do: be around people and help them.”
As the only university in Correa’s district, he wanted to thank and motivate Chapman students to engage in local politics.
“I encourage Chapman students to be extra diligent when investigating and deciding who to vote for,” Correa said. “In the upcoming election, it is going to be very hard for people and students to determine what information is legit and is just trash.”