Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Will State Sen. Paul Campbell be the next executive director of the Charleston County Aviation Authority?
According to Campbell, the ball is in the Authority’s court.
The CCAA’s board voted 7-6 on July 30 to offer its vacant position to the Goose Creek Republican. The next step in the hiring process would be for CCAA board chairman Andy Savage to negotiate an agreement to hire Campbell, and bring that agreement back to the board for its approval.
So far, that has not taken place.
“I’m not sure where we stand on the negotiations,” Campbell said in an interview last week. “I’m waiting on them to make the next move. It’s up to them.”
Campbell is a former business executive who was chosen by the CCAA less than two weeks after former director Sue Stevens resigned the position unexpectedly.
In the days following the 7-6 vote to hire Campbell, several CCAA board members publicly expressed concerns about the idea of Campbell keeping his job in the senate while serving as director, which he has said he would do.
As he awaits the board’s next move – an August meeting is not scheduled – Campbell is defending his intention to remain in the senate should he indeed be offered the job.
“I don’t see a real problem with it,” said Campbell, who added that over 150 of South Carolina’s state legislators currently hold full time jobs in addition to their duties in Columbia. “I can do both jobs and do them well.
“We’re in Columbia 55 days a year, give or take. I don’t see a problem with serving my constituents and (being the CCAA director). Most folks I know have a full time job.
“At least give me a chance to see if I can do both.”
In addition to some expenses, state legislators are paid less than $11,000 annually, Campbell said. Not only is it not realistic for legislators to rely solely on that income without another job, it is also not the way South Carolina traditionally intends for its legislators to function.
“I just look around (the legislature) and I know we have pharmacists, we have attorneys, we have dentists, we have insurance people,” Campbell said. “I think that makes it stronger. We don’t want full time legislators.
“If you go to Washington DC, they require you (to be full time). But this is not Washington DC, this is South Carolina. Even the Speaker of the House has a full time job.”
Campbell called the job of CCAA director “a real challenge. I would like the challenge … I would like the opportunity.”
The popular lawmaker added that his constituents would remain a top priority. “I want to maintain their faith and confidence,” he said.
Campbell has received a strong endorsement for the CCAA position from Charleston Mayor Joe Riley, a member of the Authority board.
In an editorial that appeared in Sunday’s Post and Courier, Riley called Campbell a great choice for the job. Riley – a former member of the General Assembly himself – said doing both jobs would not be a problem for Campbell.
“In the General Assembly, almost all the members are part-time legislators and have other complicated full-time jobs,” the mayor wrote.
Riley said that the choice of Campbell would give the Lowcountry “the best of both worlds. We will have a highly skilled, experienced and proven business manager and leader directing the staff at the Charleston International Airport and at the same time the citizens of South Carolina will have the benefit of his sound wisdom, judgment and integrity working for us in the State Senate.
“He will excel in both responsibilities. This is exactly how Paul Campbell has led his life.”
Still, several CCAA board members have publicly expressed doubts that one person can do both jobs effectively, considering the scope of the airport position.
The six board members to vote against the motion to hire Campbell were former State Sen. Larry Richter, Mallory Factor, former U.S. Rep. Tommy Hartnett, Ben Hagood, Pat Waters and Ellie Thomas.
In addition to Riley and Savage, those voting in favor of the hire were Charleston County Council Chairman Teddie Pryor, North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey, Mount Pleasant Mayor Billy Swails, Spencer Pryor and Michael Stavrinakis.
Campbell said that, should he get the job of director, voters would be able to weigh in on his performance in office over the next three years when he runs for reelection in 2016. He is confident that his constituent service would remain at its current level, he said.
Campbell, 67, said that part of his attraction to the CCAA position is the chance to continue working with a crucial job-making part of the Lowcountry.
“I’m real impressed with the staff,” the former Alcoa executive said. “I’ve met as many as I could. My number one priority in Columbia has always been job growth. The only social program worth anything is a job.”
For now, Campbell is waiting for the CCAA board’s next move. “If they have another candidate or if they want to do a search or something, that’s their right,” he said.
Campbell’s senate seat includes portions of Berkeley, Dorchester and Charleston counties.
According to its website, the Charleston County Aviation Authority owns and operates the Charleston International Airport, Charleston Executive Airport on Johns Island, and the Mount Pleasant Regional Airport.
Chartered in 1970 by the State of South Carolina, the Authority is responsible for managing, operating, and developing all public airports in the Charleston County Airport District. The Authority coordinates its activities with the Federal Aviation Administration and the South Carolina Aeronautics Commission.