Utah Democrat Jacquelyn Orton named to state liquor commission

(Scott Sommerdorf | The Salt Lake Tribune) Jacquelyn Orton — shown here speaking to a committee at the Salt Lake County Democratic Convention in April 2018 — has been appointed to the state liquor commission.

Jacquelyn Orton — a Democrat who ran an unsuccessful primary campaign for the Utah House this year and is the widow of former U.S. Rep. Bill Orton — has been appointed to the seven-member board that grants liquor licenses to restaurants, bars and businesses in the state.

An Alabama native who now lives in Salt Lake City’s House District 24, Orton has worked on several campaigns and been a community advocate for many years.

She brings an interesting personal perspective to the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control’s liquor commission, because she has consumed alcohol in the past but currently prefers not to imbibe.

“I just don’t like the taste,” she told The Salt Lake Tribune on Friday. “But I have never seen alcoholic beverages as the enemy, and I’m perfectly fine with alcohol being used responsibly by adults.”

While campaigning earlier this year, Orton said, she heard numerous complaints from residents — as well as restaurants, bars and businesses — about liquor issues over which the DABC has no control.

“There is a lack of understanding from the public about the role of the DABC,” she said. “We are basically there to enforce the laws that the Legislature passes.

“A lot of concerns that are tossed at DABC,” she added, “can only be remedied by a change to Utah law.”

It’s something Orton plans to address in her low-key style. “I tend to work quietly behind the scenes,” she said, “meeting one on one with the members of the Legislature.”

Orton replaces Kathleen McConkie Collinwood, whose second four-year term ended July 1. After being appointed by Gov. Gary Herbert in September and confirmed by the state Senate earlier this month, Orton will take her seat at her first board meeting Tuesday.

Here are the other six members on the liquor board. Each is appointed by the governor and serves a four-year term.

Chairman John T. Nielsen • Nondrinker, appointed 2013, reappointed March 2017. A former Salt Lake County prosecutor who directed the Public Safety Department from 1985 to 1989.

Steven B. Bateman • Nondrinker, appointed 2015 (partial term), reappointed 2017. Chief executive officer of St. Mark’s Hospital.

Neal Berube • Nondrinker, appointed 2015. President and CEO of Associated Food Stores.

Sophia M. DiCaro • An occasional drinker, appointed in 2017. Chief compliance officer for The Cynosure Group, an investment advisory firm in Salt Lake City, and the former Republican state representative for West Valley City’s House District 31.

Thomas Jacobson • Nondrinker, appointed 2017. Park City attorney.

Amanda Smith • Social drinker, appointed 2015. Former head of the Utah Department of Environmental Quality.