By Rhashad R. Pittman
The president of the local Hispanic Chamber of Commerce was recently appointed to the governing body that oversees the Port of Stockton. It is the first time in recent memory a Latino has been appointed to the Stockton Port Commission, which plays a major role in the local economy and connects Stockton with dozens of countries throughout the world.
Sylvester Aguilar was one of seven appointees to the Port Commission by the Stockton City Council in March. In addition to his role as president of the San Joaquin County Hispanic Chamber, Aguilar serves as a senior vice president for Bank of the West and president of the Del Rio Country Club.
The Port of Stockton generates millions of dollars in tax revenue for the city and sees $1 billion in cargo cross its docks each year. It also supports more than 4,500 jobs in the San Joaquin County area.
“Its always been the city’s best kept secret,” Aguilar said.
The Port of Stockton is governed by a seven member Board of Commissioners. Four of the commissioners are appointed by the City of Stockton and the other three are selected by San Joaquin County.
The Stockton City Council appointed Aguilar to the Port Commission in early March and he started in his new role shortly thereafter. He will serve a four-year term. Aguilar is only the third Latino to be appointed to the Port Commission in its history and the first in recent years.
The Port Commission establishes the policies that the Port’s staff follows as it conducts its daily operations. One of the main goals of the Port Commission is to strengthen its ties with the community through marketing efforts both locally and overseas, including offering free boat rides, hosting a recent networking mixer that included all of the local chambers of commerce, and conducting trade missions to various countries.
Aguilar’s background in business and finance and his leadership roles in the Stockton community will bring an invaluable skill set and experience to the Port Commission, Port director Rick Aschieris said.
“I think he’s going to make an important contribution to the Port,” Aschieris said. “The expertise that Commissioner Aguilar is going to bring will be tremendous.”
Aschieris said Aguilar will be very helpful in informing the local community about the Port’s economic impact in the region. Aguilar has already been instrumental in the Port’s marketing and outreach efforts, including on a recent trip that involved Union Pacific Railroad, which is opening a welding facility at the Port, Aschieris said.
“It’s always a challenge to keep the community aware of what the Port is doing,” Aschieris said. “His strong background in financial analysis and involvement in the Stockton community makes him an excellence choice.”
A Stockton native, Aguilar graduated from University of the Pacific’s business school and the Pacific Coast Banking School and completed graduate work at Golden Gate University. He currently serves as senior vice president and Business Banking Relationship Manager Team Lead for the Mid-Valley Business Banking Offices for Bank of the West.
“I’ve always wanted to be part of the solution when it comes to the redevelopment of Stockton,” Aguilar said. “This is a great opportunity.”
One of the keys to that solution, Aguilar said, is bringing the Port and the Stockton community closer together so that both can work in unison to help revitalize the region economically.
“We really need to do a better job of being a part of the community and having the community be a part of us,” Aguilar said.