Talent Residents Weigh In On Council's Vote

, Posted: Thu, February 16 2012 at 12:59 AM, Updated: Thu, February 16 2012 at 4:12 AM

More trouble in Talent.  Residents there are up in arms over the City Council's decision to retain Councilman E.J. McManus after being convicted of drunk driving.  Tonight residents weigh in on the issue and the Councilman speaks exclusively with NBC5's Laura Cavanaugh.

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Talent voters speaking out Wednesday night about their frustration with the City Council.

"It's a damn shame.  I think people need to get angry about this," said Talent resident, Brad Smith.

Smith was one of many Talent residents at Wednesday night's  community forum.  At issue -- was the Council in error allowing E.J. McManus to stay on and also vote to save his Council seat earlier this month.

McManus was arrested last year for drinking and driving, as well as driving with a suspended license.  He even spent some time in jail.

In a 4 to 2 vote, at the beginning of this month, the Council decided to let McManus keep his seat and serve out the remainder of his term.

"People are upset he didn't recuse himself," said Smith about the conflict of interest.

They're also upset with the Council's interpretation of the law.  The charter states a Council seat can be vacated if convicted of a public offense punishable by loss of liberty.

"As I voted with the majority, I think the Council took appropriate action," said Councilman Chris Auer.  "It's not so much black and white. There's a huge spectrum of criminality.  And I think criminality can be interpreted in different ways." 

McManus says he owns his mistakes.

"i take full responsibility for what I was convicted of.  It did not affect my ability to still serve on the Council.  I had been on the Council for 11 months since this happened," said McManus.

So under such a firestorm of criticism, why not step down? He says he's doing it for his family.

"For me personally, I just want my daughter to be able to look at me and understand how important it was to be able to still serve the community," said McManus.

And with no recall petition filed, Smith fears the Council's decision may stand.

"They want to avoid the nastiness that's attached to recalls, they don't want to see the town torn apart."

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