The Utah County Republican and Democratic parties are gearing up for spring conventions that will set the stage for a battle over the 3rd Congressional District seat in 1992.

Democrats will be battling to retain the seat. Republicans will be fighting to win it back.Republicans are looking for firm, decisive party leaders to help the party recapture the seat.

"I think as you watch people campaign (for party office) there is going to be a lot of commentary on what the party should do, what its needs are and how it should go about meeting them," said Raylene Ireland, a former county Republican chairwoman. "For the Democrats, to have the seat is a great boost to their activity in the county. It gives them a lot of momentum, and they will work to capitalize on that. It's an important convention for both parties."

GOP musical chairs

During the past year, the county Republican Party has been plagued by turnover in leaders and a split within its ranks over congressional candidates.

The party's musical chairs began when Vice Chairwoman Sue Arseneau resigned in June during her husband Bill's campaign for county commissioner. Wayne Watson, party chairman at the time, appointed Monteen Gordon to fill Sue Arseneau's position.

Watson resigned as party chairman after he was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol. Gordon succeeded him just two months before the November election.

In that election, the party's congressional candidate, Karl Snow, was soundly beat by political newcomer Democrat Bill Orton, in what has been described as the most Republican congressional district in the nation.

Chairwoman not seeking 2nd term

Gordon is not seeking re-election, primarily because her husband, Richard, has been on active duty with the Utah National Guard as part of Operation Desert Storm.

In addition to the party chairman position, the positions of vice chairman, secretary and treasurer are open. Party office holders are elected for two years.Jay Liechty, who served as Republican treasurer for the past four years, also is not seeking re-election, Gordon said. Lewis Billings is current vice chairman and Rae Howard is secretary.

Republicans are looking for a slate of leaders that can bring the party unity, stability and strong leadership. Individuals interested in running for office should give Gordon or Howard a letter stating their intentions to run for a particular position.

GOP meet on April 27

State law requires that the chairman and vice chairman be of opposite sexes. The Utah County Republican Party convention will be April 27 at 9 a.m. at Provo High School.

Democrats seeking re-election

The Democrats do not have a formal filing period for individuals interested in holding party office, according to party Chairman Bob Stringham.

"Folks just need to . . . let us know in advance so we can create a ballot," Stringham said.

Or, individuals can launch bids for offices during the Democrats' convention on March 23.

Stringham plans to seek re-election, as do LaVon Laursen, vice chairwoman, and Wynn Everett, treasurer. Stringham said Vera Nielsen, secretary, may run for a different position.

"It's an extremely important election coming up in 1992," Stringham said. "We're going to be doing everything we can to retain the 3rd District congressional seat and to expand on the coalition Orton was able to build."

Democrats meet March 23

The Democrats will hold their party convention in the American Fork Senior Citizens Center, 54 E. Main, at 9 a.m. March 23.

Also, that night the Democratic Party will host a fund-raising dinner, at the Women's Cultural Center in Provo, 310 W. 500 North, at 6 p.m. Orton will be the keynote speaker.