Paul Campbell

Paul Campbell is the executive director and CEO of the Charleston County Aviation Authority. He's expected to step down in the spring. File/Staff

Three years ago in August, state Sen. Paul Campbell took the helm at Charleston County Aviation Authority after the abrupt resignation of airport director Sue Stevens.

Campbell’s three-year contract expires in five months, and on Monday an airport panel began talks on whether to offer him an extension or begin looking for a new CEO.

Henry Fishburne, chairman of the Governance Committee, said Monday the meeting is just a starting point.

He said he does not have a preconceived opinion of the contract talks and has not talked with Campbell.

“I want to hear what Paul has to say,” he said. “I’m open-minded.”

He is also waiting for Campbell’s evaluation in June before passing judgment.

“That’s the time for me to give my opinion,” Fishburne said.

He said that two months before Campbell’s contract expires allows plenty of time to make a decision.

Campbell, a retired Alcoa executive, earns $225,000 a year and oversees a staff of 174. During the past three years, he has overseen the nearly $200 million redevelopment of the airport terminal, a behind-schedule and over-budget project that’s expected to wrap up this summer.

“If they offered me another year, I would take it,” Campbell, 69, said. “I’m not going to leave them in the lurch.”

Board chairman Billy Swails expects the panel to offer a one-year extension.

“We still have construction going on,” said Swails, the former mayor of Mount Pleasant. “I want him to stay, but if he wants to go, we’ll look for somebody else.”

The airport is looking at two future construction projects, including adding a new parking deck behind the current one and expanding the airline ticket counter space. Both projects could begin construction in 2017.

“His engineering background helps us so much,” Swails said.

No decision on Campbell’s contract is expected until at least June.

Reach Warren L. Wise at 843 937-5524 or