Natasa Pantelic has been selected as the Labour Party candidate to contest a parliamentary by-election on June 17th triggered by the death of the Conservative MP for the Chesham and Amersham constituency.
The councillor took to social media this morning to thank members and pay tribute to ex-MP Dame Cheryl Gillan, who passed away recently, after being selected following an online hustings held via Zoom on Monday evening.
“I’d like to pay tribute to the late Dame Cheryl Gillan for so many years of service to the people of Chesham and Amersham and my thoughts are especially with her family and friends as we go through the election campaign over the next few weeks,” Pantelic said.
“I’m delighted to have been chosen to fight this election and to be standing as the Labour Party candidate, a party I have proudly been a member of for 14 years.
“I’m looking forward to addressing the key issues in this campaign, particularly around housing, development, and infrastructure in Chesham and Amersham. I’m hoping for good-spirited campaign and I’ll be working hard for every vote.”
Pantelic is a Fabian Society member who serves as a councillor for Cippenham Meadows ward. She is the lead member for health and wellbeing at Slough Borough Council and sits on the Local Government Association wellbeing board.
She is a founding member of the Labour Women’s parliamentary staff network and co-authored an article for LabourList in December last year on how “the sisterhood has adapted to stay connected” throughout the pandemic.
Chesham and Amersham has been a Conservative seat since its creation in 1974, represented by Dame Cheryl Gillan from 1992 until hear death last month. Gillan secured a majority of 16,233 votes at the last general election.
Labour candidate Matt Turmaine placed third in the election in December 2019, backed by 7,166 Chesham and Amersham residents. Lib Dem Dan Gallagher took second place behind the Tories with 14,627 votes.
Pantelic, a former primary school teacher and education network leader, will stand against Peter Fleet representing the Conservatives, Sarah Green for the Lib Dems and Carolyne Culver for the Green Party.
Former Tory minister turned Lib Dem Dr Phillip Lee urged Labour and the Greens not to stand in the constituency last week, saying that the anti-Conservative vote splitting between the three parties would mean the Tories retaining the seat.
The by-election will be the third of four to take place this year. Voters in Hartlepool in the North of England and residents of the Airdrie and Shotts parliamentary constituency in Scotland went back to the polls earlier this month.
Dr Paul Williams failed to retain the Hartlepool seat for Labour on May 6th, securing 8,589 votes with his Conservative rival winning the by-election by a margin of nearly 7,000, in a historic defeat for Labour.
Labour increased its vote share from 31.9% to 38.4% in the Airdrie and Shotts by-election, which took place last week, but the SNP still managed to hold onto the Scottish Westminster seat and Anum Qaisar-Javed was elected.
Batley and Spen will also elect a new MP in a by-election triggered by Tracy Brabin’s election as West Yorkshire mayor. Labour has not yet selected its candidate for the vote, but Kim Leadbeater – sister of Jo Cox – is thought likely to be chosen.