State Republican Party members Friday night chose the GOP's national committeeman to head the organization, replacing resigning chief Craig Moody.

Jack Roberts, majority owner of Park West Ski Resort, edged out Lane Ronnow, Weber County Republican chairman, for the Utah party, to head the organization.Moody, R-Sandy, officially stepped down. He is the majority leader-elect in the Utah House and said he didn't "want party politics injected into that duty."

Moody, who was elected to the post in June 1987, leaves the post effective Friday, fresh off the party's victories in November and with the GOP coffers full.

"I have a very, very strong desire to do something useful. And I can't think of anything more useful than to make the Republican Party in Utah as strong as it can be," Roberts told about 140 members of the party's State Central Committee who attended the meeting at the Salt Lake City Hall, 324 S. State.

Both Ronnow and Roberts stressed the need for increased efforts to get Republicans to the polls and fund raising.

Doug Sontag, a lobbyist and former state legislator, offered a moment of levity in the overcrowded and overheated planning commission room by asking both candidates about their past.

"I want to know if there's anything in the closet," Sontag said.

Moody quickly overruled Sontag, who told the outgoing chairman, "I'm serious."

"So am I," countered Moody in brushing off the question.

In other activities during the 90-minute meeting, members accepted the resignations of a half-dozen party members, including former Lt. Gov. David Monson and failed gubernatorial candidate Merrill Cook.

The committee endorsed forming teenage Republican Party committees, which Moody called "a real untapped resource" of aides and future votes.