Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Incumbent sworn in as Paradise mayoral race ends in another tie

Kurtis Coombs, 19, walks outside of town hall in Paradise, Nfld., Wednesday Sept. 30, 2009.

Keith Gosse/Keith Gosse/The Canadian Press

The battle for the keys to Paradise came down to 3,642 votes split smack down the middle and a name drawn from a recycling bin.

And the boy wonder who shocked the town by almost beating its incumbent mayor says he'll keep fighting even after his rival was sworn in Tuesday night.For less than two days, 19-year-old Kurtis Coombs was the youngest mayor in Canada when he won the Paradise, Nfld., municipal election by three votes. That reign ended when a recount put him and incumbent Ralph Wiseman at a tie - and a random draw from a recycling bin made Mr. Wiseman the winner.

Another recount Tuesday in a provincial courtroom in St. John's came up with the same result: a dead tie. And the town's chief returning officer, Joyce Moss, has determined the result from the random draw of names will stand.

Story continues below advertisement

But Mr. Coombs, who lives with his parents in Paradise and commutes to Memorial University in St. John's, says that isn't fair.

"They're unlawfully swearing in a candidate. … There needs to be a re-election here," he said, adding that if there were another random draw and he were chosen, he would call for another vote.

Mr. Coombs insists that because the recount found a tie again, there should have been another name draw. Because there wasn't, he's filing a complaint in court - one that, if upheld, will force a re-election.

Mr. Wiseman did not return calls for comment.

Paradise resident Fred Thornhill, who lost his race for councillor two weeks ago after four straight terms, said that at some point Mr. Coombs will have to face defeat.

"The young man's got a bright future," he said. "I think he's going to end up in federal politics somewhere along the way - he's got aspirations to do that and he's well-spoken. But I think at this point in his life, right now, let it be."

But Mr. Coombs, who won votes largely based on dissatisfaction with the way Paradise, population 14,000, is handling its growth, said the results don't address voter discontent. Yet the second-year political science student adds this bout hasn't soured him on politics entirely. It'd take a lot more of this to sour me enough to stop caring," he said.

Story continues below advertisement

Report an error Licensing Options
Comments are closed

We have closed comments on this story for legal reasons. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Globe Newsletters

Get a summary of news of the day

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Thank you!

You are now subscribed to the newsletter at

You can unsubscribe from this newsletter or Globe promotions at any time by clicking the link at the bottom of the newsletter, or by emailing us at