Eatonville voters elect leader of Washington Three Percenters to school board

Updated: Aug 7, 2020

Matt Marshall, left, stands with his wife and two daughters. Marshall is the founder and leader of 3% of Washington group and looks likely to win a seat on the Eatonville School Board. MATT MARSHALL COURTESY

By Allison Needles

November 07, 2019 1:58 PM, UPDATED November 07, 2019 3:41 PM

Matt Marshall, the founder and leader of a state branch of the controversial Three Percenters national movement, is likely to win a seat on the Eatonville school board.

As of the most recent election results released Wednesday, Marshall had a comfortable lead in the race for Eatonville School District, Position 3, with 61.88 percent of the vote, or 1,052 ballots. His opponent, SammieJo Thirtyacre, who was selected by the current board to fill a vacancy in April, had received 36.88 percent of the votes, or 627 ballots.

In a phone interview Wednesday, Marshall said he thinks the outcome shows that Eatonville is a small town that wants to see conservative values instilled on the school board.

“There’s clearly a lot of frustration with the status quo of Eatonville School District,” Marshall said. “I think I was seen as a chance for change.”

Earlier this year, Marshall’s campaign for school board drew attention from the Western States Center, a Portland-based organization that tracks and works to combat white nationalism and extremist groups. The organization calls Three Percenters groups an anti-government movement, citing social media posts and participation in rallies by Marshall.

“I think it’s disturbing and definitely notable (the Pierce County Republican Party) would endorse such a public, visible leader of a militia group that has threatened elected officials,” a spokesperson said in June.

Western States Center responded to the results Thursday.

“We’re disturbed by the apparent election of an anti-government militia leader to the Eatonville school board,” said Lindsay Schubiner, program director at Western States Center. “Marshall’s group has threatened elected officials and frequently uses violent language when discussing its anti-government agenda.”

The 3% of Washington consists of “God fearing Patriots that support our constitution, and promise to defend our country, our community, and our families from all enemies foreign and domestic,” according to the 3% of Washington group’s website.

Marshall, who was endorsed by the Pierce County Republican Party, said that he wasn’t sure what the outcome of the election would be at first due to outside “smear campaigns” but in the end thinks the attention helped voters to “make an informed decision.”

“We had a lot of outside noise and blatant lies about what our organization stands for ... I just didn’t know how people were going to react,” he said.

Marshall said he wants to improve the quality of school lunches and take a look at where the district can be frugal as it faces budgetary constraints.

“Before I do anything, I need to establish myself, get my bearing — see how things are going,” he said.

Reached by phone Thursday, Thirtyacre told The News Tribune that she was grateful for the people that came to vote but wished turnout was higher.

“I hope that Mr. Marshall jumps in and contributes whatever he has to make things even better,” she said.

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