Governor appoints a new DABC commissioner — a Democrat, but not really a drinker

SALT LAKE CITY — Governor Gary Herbert has appointed a new commissioner for Utah’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.

Jacquelyn Orton (image via Jacquelyn Orton House 24 campaign)

Jacquelyn Orton, a former Democratic candidate for House of Representatives, and a community advocate, was appointed by the governor to serve on Utah’s liquor control commission.

Orton was quietly confirmed unanimously by a Senate committee earlier this month.

“Am I consumer of alcohol? Yes,” she told the committee, describing how she has hosted parties for dignitaries and politicos that often included beer and wine (her late husband was Utah congressman Bill Orton).

Orton later told FOX 13 she has tried alcohol, but she’s never been “a drinker.” She added it wasn’t for religious or morality reasons.

“I just don’t like it,” she said.

Orton said she doesn’t personally like the taste, but she purchases it for others to enjoy.

Orton praised DABC employees who work in state-run liquor stores. Orton also said she has looked at liquor legislation passed by the Utah State Legislature.

“At the end of the day, I consider the legislation our guideposts and I feel like it’s my job to enforce what all of you do,” she said. “I will pull you aside confidentially and we’ll have some discussions as we move forward, but I feel like my primary job is to represent my neighborhood, my friends, those who drink, those who don’t drink and strike a balance.”

Sen. Karen Mayne, D-West Valley City, spoke glowingly of Orton.

“It’s about time!” she said, adding: “I think you bring good skills, you’re worldly, you’ve had all kinds of experiences and on this kind of board that’s what’s needed.”

Sen. Jake Anderegg, R-Lehi, reiterated his longstanding belief that the state of Utah should not be in the liquor business.

“I think the market should dictate it, I just cannot stand it,” he said. “But I also wanted to say… we need people who understand the nature of making people feel welcome.”

Sen. Anderegg spoke of international tourism and Utah being “unique.”

“We need people who understand that alcohol, in and of itself, is not bad,” he said. “We need people who understand, ‘Hey look, I may have a General Authority and I may have an ambassador from Sweden and if they’re both in my house and they feel welcome.”

Orton will begin her term as DABC commissioner on Tuesday.