More than 200 Utah County Republicans answered the call to convention Saturday, signifying what party leaders hope will be the first step in strengthening and uniting the party.

Party leaders also hope Saturday's convention at Provo High School marks the beginning stages of a successful battle to win back Utah's 3rd District Congressional seat. Guest speaker Lt. Gov. Val Oveson heaped praise on the state and the Republican Party for its stand on tough issues. He credited the state's people, geography and leaders for making Utah the "right place" for business, families and education."And, Utah is the right place to begin mending the torn moral fabric of our nation," Oveson said.

He praised the Republican Party for taking unwavering stands against pornography and abortion and in support of prayer in public schools. He called Utah's abortion law "totally appropriate" and said the state would emerge victorious in court battles over the legislation.

Delegates and central committee members elected new party leaders during the convention: Lewis Billings, chairman; Janice Hunter, vice chairwoman; Gary Ashby, treasurer; and Michael Hill, secretary.

Billings, Hunter and Ashby ran unopposed. Hill beat out Von Brockbank and David Tyler, who was nominated from the floor of the convention, for the secretary's position.

Billings called upon the county's Republicans to acknowledge their differences but to stand firm together. Members of the party need to be willing to compromise their individual desires in support of the majority's dictates, he said.

"When we allow ourselves to become divided, that is when, that is where we become vulnerable," Billings said.

Monteen Gordon, outgoing party chairwoman, said the years 1989-91 will "not be called our tranquil period."

"Despite the problems and the turmoil the Utah County Republican Party has had, it has held together, is holding together and will hold together," Gordon said.