Muwekma Chairwoman Charlene Nijmeh plans to unseat Rep. Zoe Lofgren

Muwekma Chairwoman Charlene Nijmeh

SAN JOSE — The Muwekma Ohlone Tribal Chairwoman Charlene Nijmeh is officially declaring her candidacy for Congress this week, aiming to combat corruption and address the housing affordability crisis plaguing the country.

“Entrenched incumbents sit very comfortably in Congress, entirely detached from the struggles that families endure to keep a roof over their heads,” Nijmeh said in a statement. “I feel that struggle. In the Bay Area, that burden is very heavy. It’s too heavy.”

Nijmeh is set to officially launch her campaign to unseat Democrat Rep. Zoe Lofgren, who has stood in the way of the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe’s federal recognition, for the 18th District seat at an announcement rally scheduled for 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 18 at St. James Park in San Jose.

Nijmeh is prioritizing housing affordability and homelessness in her campaign. She’s proposing the Housing Affordability and Supply Act of 2025, aiming to incentivize municipalities to increase housing units in urban areas through infrastructure block grants and support nonprofit-owned supportive housing for people who are unhoused or suffering from a mental illness.

“The incumbent has ignored the basic housing needs of San Jose’s marginalized communities simply because she doesn’t all that much care about our housing needs,” Nijmeh said. “I can only conclude from her behavior that she would prefer that we move out of San Jose and into the hinterlands of the Central Valley. It’s the type of subconscious bias that sits at the crux of racism and elitism, but my community knows it well.”

Nijmeh is challenging a long-serving incumbent in Congress who represents Silicon Valley and has strong ties to major tech companies while opposing industry regulations, a release states. Nijmeh, in her role as tribal chairwoman, has highlighted her community’s struggle against gentrification in the Bay Area, attributing it to the actions of big tech, which she believes overlook both her tribe’s plight and that of other marginalized communities in San Jose.

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