Stanwood planning commissioner Nate Nehring, 21, was picked earlier in January from three finalists to fill Ken Klein’s former seat, representing north Snohomish County on the county council. He is the youngest person to ever serve on the council since its inception in 1980. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

Stanwood planning commissioner Nate Nehring, 21, was picked earlier in January from three finalists to fill Ken Klein’s former seat, representing north Snohomish County on the county council. He is the youngest person to ever serve on the council since its inception in 1980. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

Is a 21-year-old equipped for Snohomish County Council?

What were you doing when you were 21? I was eating leftover pizza five nights a week and calculating the maximum amount of money I could bum off my parents. And I was a responsible college student who pretty much had my act together.

So I can’t imagine being in Nate Nehring’s shoes. At 21, he’s the newest member of the Snohomish County Council, representing the residents of Marysville, Arlington and much of north Snohomish County, all while prompting parents across the county to look wistfully at their own young adult children and wonder where it all went wrong.

With apologies to Nehring, who I’m sure is a fine young man despite having no memory of the 20th century, his appointment to the council does raise the question of whether someone so young should have the job. After all, the rational part of a person’s brain isn’t fully developed until age 25, which explains why cigarette companies keep finding new customers and Nickelback keeps selling music.

In our latest poll at HeraldNet.com, we asked whether any 21-year-old can be mature enough for the council. Two-thirds said the right person can be mature enough, with only one-third saying more seasoning is needed.

One could argue that government would function better if more young people were involved, since they’re the ones who’ll live the longest with the decisions that are made. You can vote and serve your country at 18, drink and play slot machines at 21, so why not put a whiz kid on the council if he’s as qualified as Nehring?

Might as well have him do it now. It’s only a matter of time before he wises up and looks for a better job.

— Doug Parry: parryracer@gmail.com; @parryracer

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