TALENT — Most of the people who spoke at a public forum Wednesday evening said City Councilman E.J. McManus, convicted of drunken driving and driving with a suspended license, should continue to serve rather than be removed.

TALENT — Most of the people who spoke at a public forum Wednesday evening said City Councilman E.J. McManus, convicted of drunken driving and driving with a suspended license, should continue to serve rather than be removed.

About 30 people attended the session at the Talent Community Center before a regular City Council meeting. Resident John Olson had reserved the hall to allow the public to discuss McManus' future with the city.

McManus' choices were criticized by several speakers, while others questioned the council's interpretation of the city charter. Most speakers dismissed the idea of a recall.

"I don't know how many of you have been through a recall," said former two-term Mayor Marian Telerski. "It's an ugly thing ... and it doesn't do much. I would recommend the city not go through a recall."

Former five-term Mayor Frank Falsarella and other speakers urged voters to use the ballot box in November to determine who should sit on the council. McManus' term expires at the end of the year and he has not indicated whether he will seek re-election.

"I'm dead against recalls," said Falsarella. "It's very costly and it divides the city."

The council on Feb. 1 defeated a motion by a 4-2 vote to remove McManus from the council. The city charter allows such a procedure, but does not require removal, according to an opinion from the city attorney.

After that meeting, Olson had said he was going to explore the possibility of a recall. But Wednesday he said he, too, did not support a recall right now.

McManus was praised for his work on the council and for the city.

"He has served the city for eight years and earned the respect of the citizens that elected him," said Curtis Auer.

Don Chapin said he considered running against McManus in 2006. McManus had been appointed to the council in 2005.

"I approved of what he was doing then," said Chapin, who decided not to oppose McManus. He continues to support him.

"E.J. has always done a very good job for the city," said Don Steyskal, who was mayor from 2007-2010. "The issue isn't E.J., it's the charter."

Steyskal said, "The council deliberated and explored the option to not vacate (the seat), which I believe is a valid vote."

Olson said he believes the charter calls for the City Council to remove McManus, and that the council has failed to fulfill that requirement.

Former Councilman Dan Goyette said McManus exhibited poor judgment by breaking the law, and also by participating in the council's actions on Feb. 1.

"He talked on his own behalf and then voted, which is a violation of state law," said Goyette. Under state law, McManus should have declared a potential conflict of interest, but it does allow him to cast a vote on his own behalf.

"I think he should step down," said Goyette. McManus could then reapply for the vacant seat along with other potential candidates, he added.

Goyette resigned from the council last September after being arrested on a felony charge of attempted use of a child in a display of sexually explicit conduct. He entered a not-guilty plea and is scheduled for a pretrial hearing on Feb. 27.

McManus was convicted of driving under the influence of intoxicants in September following a traffic stop in Medford. In November, he was arrested and jailed for driving with a suspended license and violating his probation. He was arrested on a DUII charge in Ashland in 2004 and completed a diversion program.

McManus was the only council member who attended the session. He commented after the meeting ended.

"I still think there is misinformation about the (council vote and charter) process and my personal conduct," said McManus. "I think it has been unfair to my family. They have received personal comments. I still feel honored to serve the city."

Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at tboomwriter@gmail.com