Gov. Gary Herbert’s nomination of three members to the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control commission virtually assures that the majority of the board overseeing the state-run liquor monopoly remains in the hands of nondrinkers.
Herbert recommended Dennis Nordfelt be added to the liquor-control board, replacing Richard Sperry, whose four-year term ends June 30.
The governor also is nominating for reappointment Jeffrey Wright, the commission’s vice chair, to a second term. Wright is the only social drinker among the newest appointments and one of three imbibers on the seven-member board that oversees the agency that controls distribution of alcohol in the state and the authorization of liquor licenses.
Nordfelt is scheduled to go before a Senate subcommittee on June 18, prior to consideration of the two men the next day by the full Senate, which generally approves the governor’s nominees.
Wright, 44, is a managing partner and founder of the private investment firm Actium Partners LLC.
Nordfelt, 70, served as mayor of West Valley City from 2002 to 2010, and as the city’s police chief from 1987 to 1998. Earlier, he worked for the Utah Highway Patrol for 20 years and was appointed superintendent of the agency in 1981.
In 1985, Nordfelt was reappointed UHP superintendent by John T. Nielsen, then commissioner of the Public Safety Department. Coincidentally, Nielsen rounds out the trio of new board members, having been nominated earlier this year and confirmed in March by the state Senate.
Nielsen, 71, a former Salt Lake County prosecutor, directed the Public Safety Department from 1985 to 1989. More recently, he served as director of government relations for Intermountain Healthcare, a health-care system in Utah and Idaho. He also led the state’s efforts on health care reform, including compliance with the federal Affordable Care Act.
The new board members will be overseeing an embattled DABC, whose annual budget tops $300 million and whose executive ranks were buffeted by a series of resignations and firings after several audits were released critical of how it had been managed. In 2011, then-executive director Dennis Kellen resigned after auditors said the agency had improperly done business with Kellen’s son, among other operational improprieties.