What has been the subject of speculation for several months is now official: Bob Stringham is running for Congress from Utah's 3rd District.

Stringham, the Utah County Democratic Party chairman, officially announced his candidacy Tuesday at the Provo Excelsior Hotel and immediately held a kickoff fund-raising reception in the hotel's Presidential Suite."I am running for this office because I'm concerned about the future of our children," Stringham told an audience of supporters. "As I see it, all political issues fall under one great umbrella children's issues. And those children's issues the economy, education, the environment will be the focus of my campaign.

"The only thing necessary to ask about any legislative issue or problem we face today is this: What effect will it have on our children."

The announcement was made with surprising fanfare, and Stringham promised to campaign aggressively. That would be in contrast to the low-key congressional campaigns 3rd District Democrats have mounted since the district was formed in 1982.

He outlined an ambitious schedule that will take him to campaign stops in Salt Lake, Wasatch, Summit, Duchesne, Uintah, Daggett, Carbon, Emery, Sevier and Sanpete counties in the next five days. Two more counties, San Juan and Grand, are scheduled for a campaign tour in May.

Stringham, a retired Geneva steel worker who now runs a management consulting firm, joins Craig Oliver of Taylorsville in the race for the Democratic nomination to challenge the 3rd District Republican incumbent Howard Nielson in November.

Much of Stringham's speech took direct aim at the Republican Party, although he did not mention Nielson by name.

"The Republicans have had their opportunity for the past seven years to show what they can do," he said. "But during that time the 3rd District has suffered. Ten thousand manufacturing jobs have been lost at Geneva Steel, Kennecott Copper and in other basic industries."

Those and as many as 30,000 additional lost support jobs have been replaced by jobs in a proliferating number of 7-Eleven stores, Stringham said. He lamented the 3rd District's low wage scale, which he said pays from 50 cents to $2 per hour less than for comparable jobs in other parts of the state.

"A positive approach to creating jobs in the 3rd District is needed to turn that situation around," he said.

Quoting former President John F. Kennedy and echoing a campaign theme already established by Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ted Wilson, Stringham called children America's and Utah's greatest resource.

He said Utahns are paying taxes to educate their children, only to see them leave the state after that education is complete to find jobs paying enough to support a family.

"The future of our nation will depend upon how we treat the stewardship we have been given to protect and preserve this great resource our children," he said.