Stanwood planning commissioner Nate Nehring (left) is congratulated by Marysville Councilman Michael Stevens after the Snohomish County Council announced that Nehring was picked to fill a vacant council seat on Monday. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

At 21, Nate Nehring is youngest to serve on County Council

EVERETT — The newest member of the Snohomish County Council may be all of 21 years old, but his family name is already familiar in local politics.

Nate Nehring won the appointment Monday for the vacant District 1 seat. Nehring, a middle school science teacher and vice chairman of the Stanwood Planning Commission, is the son of Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring. He secured the backing of all four County Council members he’ll be joining on the dais.

“I’m a collaborator. I’m a real team player,” Nate Nehring said. “I like to work with others.”

A lifetime playing soccer taught him that, “If you don’t play as a team, you don’t win.”

He was sworn in later that morning. He said he was humbled by the trust placed in him and intended to start work immediately.

Nehring is, by several years, the youngest person to serve on the council since its inception in 1980. The next-youngest was former Councilman Bruce Agnew, who started at age 29.

The District 1 post became vacant Jan. 1 after Ken Klein resigned to take a job as a high-level manager under County Executive Dave Somers. Klein is a Republican and it was up to his party to nominate successors. The district covers the cities of Marysville, Arlington, Stanwood and Granite Falls, the Town of Darrington and many rural areas.

The Snohomish County GOP nominated three candidates on Jan. 14. The other two were Marysville City Councilman Michael Stevens and Darrington Town Councilman Kevin Ashe.

During his nomination speech to party members, Nehring vowed to bring young people into the GOP. He said he wanted to make Snohomish County “the Ohio of Washington” by flipping it from Democratic to Republican control, and then using that momentum to help Republicans win statewide.

Acknowledging his youth, Nehring declared that he had more experience with government issues at the city and county level “than most people twice my age.”

The County Council made the selection after interviewing each candidate separately Monday morning.

During his turn, Nehring was poised, prepared and polite. He spoke of keeping budgets in check and addressing the concerns of the more than 150,000 people in his council district.

He quoted President John F. Kennedy to stress public service over partisanship: “Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer but the right answer.”

He also mentioned his volunteer commitments to Stanwood parks and service on the county’s performance audit committee.

Nehring grew up in Marysville. He participated in the Running Start program to earn an associates degree from Everett Community College in 2013 and graduated from Western Washington University in 2016. He began teaching this school year at Marysville’s Cedarcrest Middle School. The job started as an internship and turned into a contract position, he said.

Council Chairman Brian Sullivan, a Democrat, said all three candidates were impressive, but he was won over by Nehring’s emphasis on teamwork and “passion for public service.”

Looming issues for the council include deciding whether to pursue a $62 million renovation of the county courthouse and putting out bids for the county’s $20-million-per-year long-haul garbage contract.

The county council job pays an annual salary of $117,534.

To keep his seat, Nehring will have to run for a full four-year term in November. Also up for reelection: Councilman Sam Low of Lake Stevens, a Republican who won a special one-year term in office last year. Councilman Terry Ryan’s term also is up this fall. The Mill Creek Democrat was first elected to the County Council in 2013.

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465; Twitter: @NWhaglund.

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