ALBURTIS, Pa. - Would you like a teenager convicted of stalking and escaping from police representing you on town council?
In the Lehigh County borough of Alburtis, that is exactly what's happened.
Kyle Bower, 19, took the oath of office Wednesday night, just hours after pleading guilty in court to misdemeanor charges of escape and stalking.
It's a move that has split Alburtis residents.
Bower originally agreed to do an on-camera interview with 69 News. Then his father pulled him away and told him: "You are not smart enough to handle an interview with 69 News."
After that, Bower declined an interview.
On Friday, Bower's father told 69 News he advised his son that one should be at the top of one's game before consenting to an on-camera interview. He said he wasn't telling his son he's not smart, and he doesn't remember using those words.
Some Alburtis residents said Bower should step down from Borough Council.
"I affirm these statements before God, aware that I shall answer before Him on the last great day," Bower said during his swearing in.
"I think it's a shame that he didn't step up and be a man and actually step away when he said he could," said Tanya Miller, an Alburtis resident.
Much of the problem involves Bower's criminal record.
Hours before voting on issues, such as who should be the borough solicitor, Bower pleaded guilty to stalking and escape, two misdemeanor crimes.
"We all hope that he does the job that he was elected to do," said Alburtis borough President Steven Hill. "There's nothing that we can do to remove him from Borough Council. The state constitution set some guidelines on how you can remove somebody from elected office."
According to those guidelines, if a person is convicted of public embezzlement, bribery, perjury, or "other infamous crimes" he or she can be removed, but there is no clarification of an "infamous crime."
"His stuff that he went to court for this morning is not his first [set of] charges," said Miller. "He has charges in Berks. He has charges in Lehigh, previous charges in Lehigh."
In November, 2011, Bower was charged with giving false information to a police officer and then escaping while the officers did a background check. He has yet to face a judge on those charges.
Some people in Alburtis said maybe next time the 136 people who voted for Bower will take the privilege more seriously.
"You just can't go in and pull a lever or push a button as it is now without knowing who you are voting for because this is what happens," said Hill.
During the meeting, Bower told council he would represent the residents of Alburtis to the fullest of his capability.
Allentown, PA 18102