Two young Republicans, Peter Van Alstyne and Donald J. Purser, this Saturday will seek the chairmanship of the Salt Lake County Republican Party.

Current chairwoman Frances Hatch Merrill is stepping down. She succeeded Richard Snelgrove last year when he resigned to run against Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah.A new county chairman, vice chairman, secretary and treasurer will be picked at the county party's convention Saturday at 9 a.m. in Taylorsville High School, 5225 S. Redwood Road.

Several other people have filed for the chairman's office, but GOP officials said they understood those people will step aside, leaving the race between Van Alstyne and Purser.

Van Alstyne is the director of the Division of Corporations, Utah Department of Commerce. He's a long-time Republican Party worker.

Van Alstyne was an administrative aide to Sen. Jake Garn when Garn was mayor of Salt Lake City. He then served as one of Garn's aides in the U.S. Senate. Returning to Salt Lake, Van Alstyne was named to the Salt Lake City Planning and Zoning Commission, where he served a stint as chairman.

In 1981 he was named director of Murray City's Redevelopment Agency. He left there in 1982 to serve three months as a special assistant to then-Education Secretary T.H. Bell.

He left Bell to become an assistant vice president at Prudential Bache Securities. In 1985, Van Alstyne was named deputy director of the Utah Department of Business Regulation (renamed this year the Commerce Department).

In February of this year he was named the director of the department's corporations division. Van Alstyne was out of town this week and couldn't be reached for comment on his party candidacy.

Purser is president of Purser, Okazaki & Berrett, a Salt Lake legal and business firm.

Purser is on the board of directors of the Utah Elephant Club (formerly the Governor's Club).

He graduated for the University of Utah in 1975 and received his law degree from George Mason University, Virginia, in 1978. In 1980-81 he took post-doctoral studies at Georgetown University Law Center. He served as a special agent with the U.S. State Department for five years, traveling extensively in Europe and the Middle East. Purser is a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army Reserve.

"I believe the Salt Lake County Republican Party is in need of decisive leadership from an individual with hands-on experience in management as well as someone who's accessible during both day and evening hours to perform work for the party," Purser said.

His goal, if elected, is to raise enough money to adequately fund GOP candidates in legislative races - "to retake seats currently held by Democrats" - and to involve all Republicans - especially those who can give time, but not money - in the party.