By Ron Gregory
CHARLESTON — The state employee terminated last week from the state’s redistricting office is responding to comments made in the wake of her departure.
Former State GIS Coordinator Jo Vaughan said this morning that she “might have a lot more to say later on.” For now, however, she said she simply wants to set the record straight concerning the 2012 legislative redistricting which was approved by the legislature in 2011.
Vaughan insisted, in a telephone interview, that she and her office were “never responsible” for errors in the original redistricting plan passed by the legislature. In fact, she said, “I did not even see the redistricting bill until after it had been passed and approved.”
Although some individual legislators spoke with Vaughan about redistricting in 2011, she said she was never a part of “the leadership team that decided where lines were to be drawn.” In some cases, those lines cut across county limits and crossed streets and rivers where they were not expected to by incumbent legislators.
At the time, some legislators complained that Vaughan, as the state mapping expert, was not even in the state when the final version of the bill was debated.
Vaughan said Wednesday that she was at a conference in San Antonio, Texas, at the time. “But I was sent there by my boss and told to attend,” she said. “I only did exactly what they told me to do.”
While she is distraught at the firing, Vaughan said she has received “tremendous support from my many friends and even a lot of legislators.” She said she is not vindictive and does not plan legal action “at this time.” She operates her own private consulting firm, Jo Vaughan Consultants, and is currently working on a project to redraw a ward district line in Charleston.
“I am going to concentrate on building my business and being independent,” she said Wednesday. “I am not the kind of person to hold a grudge.”
But Vaughan said she felt the record should be clear on the legislative redistricting. “That was never my baby; that was never my project,” she said. “If it had been, I promise you I would have had a lot different recommendations than how it ended up.”