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Marshall touts ex−neighbor Holder for Obama’s AG

A Queens man could be headed for the White House and the borough’s biggest cheerleader, who happens to be his longtime neighbor, could not be prouder.

East Elmhurst’s Eric Holder is being vetted for the attorney general slot in the administration of President−elect Barack Obama, the senator’s transition team announced this week. Holder, 57, grew up on 97th Street in East Elmhurst two blocks away from another prominent political figure: Borough President Helen Marshall.

“He was a very talented youngster. He was always a really talented young person,” recalled Marshall, who served on the PTA with his mother, Miriam. “I know his mother is thrilled to death.”

If officially appointed to the post as the nation’s top attorney, Holder would be the first black person to hold the position. It would not be unfamiliar territory for Holder, however, who served as the deputy attorney general under Janet Reno during the Clinton administration.

Marshall credited Holder’s mother with raising “a delightful boy.”

“So many of us of my age group, our parents pushed us. It was harder for our parents,” said Marshall, the first black borough president. “And now, this is the result of that — our children. Our children wouldn’t think of not going to college. They wouldn’t dream of not trying to achieve these great things.”

Holder excelled from a young age in the city, attending Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan, where he was the recipient of a Regents Scholarship. He went on to earn his bachelor’s in American history from Columbia University in 1973 and was accepted into Columbia Law School, which he graduated from in 1976.

In addition to being appointed as deputy attorney general in 1997, Holder also served in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Public Integrity Unit and served as a U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, a position to which President Bill Clinton appointed him.

Holder currently serves in the private sector at the law firm of Covington & Burling in Washington, D.C., where he lives with his wife, Sharon, and their three children.

Marshall said that if he is formally nominated and confirmed, Holder’s achievement would be a testament to hardworking individuals in Queens and across the country.

“This is progress. Progress that you can only make in America,” Marshall said.

Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e−mail at sstirling@timesledger.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 138.

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