(San Jose, CA) – Muwekma Ohlone Tribal Chairwoman Charlene Nijmeh is declaring her candidacy for Congress this week. Chairwoman Nijmeh will be calling on the federal government to legislate sweeping new reforms to federal housing policy in order to address the Nation’s staggering affordability crisis and supply shortage.
“Entrenched incumbents sit very comfortably in Congress, entirely detached from the struggles that families endure to keep a roof over their heads. I feel that struggle. In the Bay Area, that burden is very heavy. It’s too heavy,” the Chairwoman plans to say in prepared remarks at an announcement rally scheduled for Saturday, November 18.
The Chairwoman will be challenging one of Congress’s most powerful members – a 30-year incumbent who represents Silicon Valley and serves as Ranking Member of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee. Rep. Zoe Lofgren has taken staggering sums of money from Silicon’s Valley’s biggest tech companies – including Google, Meta, Apple, and Cisco – while pushing back against tech industry regulations.
In public remarks spanning her six-year tenure as Tribal Chairwoman, Nijmeh has described her People’s struggle to remain on their 10,000-year-old homeland in the face of enormous gentrification pressures in the Bay Area. She blames Big Tech for driving the gentrification while ignoring the Tribe’s struggle – and the struggle of San Jose’s other marginalized communities as well.
“Rep. Lofgren 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. 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,” she argues. “It’s the type of subconscious bias that sits at the crux of racism and elitism, but my community knows it well.”
Nijmeh believes that housing affordability and homelessness will be the primary issues of her campaign. So much so that she is advancing the Housing Affordability and Supply Act of 2025, which would award municipalities that up-zone urban areas to accommodate more housing units with ‘infrastructure block grants’ to combat NIMBY-ism.
That legislation would also accelerate funding for supportive housing developments that are owned and managed by non-profits that specialize in supporting the unhoused and those who are mentally ill.
Supporters of Nijmeh believe that the incumbent’s cozy relationship with Big Tech will make the congressional district competitive this cycle. Big Tech hasn’t been held accountable for the mental health impacts that the social media platforms are having on children, or the human trafficking that is enabled by their technologies.
Nijmeh argues that children need to be protected from Big Tech like a previous generation needed to be protected from Big Tobacco.
The 18th district is majority-Latino, and the incumbent has been out of step with the constituency since she was redistricted out of her much wealthier, much less diverse Silicon Valley district of yesteryear.