Harvey mayoral candidate Albert Abney's campaign HQ destroyed by fire

HARVEY, Ill. (WLS) -- Fire destroyed a building that housed the political headquarters of a candidate in the race for Harvey mayor, and now, the state fire marshal and the ATF are investigating.

Albert Abney is one of six candidates challenging incumbent Mayor Eric Kellogg.

Abney is a political newcomer who says he has no ties to the current administration or anyone in politics in Harvey. His campaign headquarters was targeted in the last 24 hours - first vandalized, then set on fire - and he believes it's politically motivated.

"Somebody's worried about me. Somebody's thinking that I'm doing too much and want to silence me, but I'm alright," Abney said.

The fire gutted Abney's campaign headquarters. Although investigators are looking at arson, he says he's not afraid.

"What scares me is not running for office. What scares me is what the city will lose, what I will lose, what my family will lose, if I don't run for office," Abney said.

Abney says the trouble began on Thursday, when someone started his campaign sign and painted the word "leave" on his campaign's building. The Naval reservist and VA employee said the scene reminds him of his time in Iraq, when the locals wanted Americans to leave.

"I come back home to the freest country on the planet, and I'm running for public office and somebody wants me to leave, and I'm not going anywhere," Abney said.

"We are taking the approach that this could be some political retaliation from some candidate who's running against him," said Det. Gregory Thomas, Harvey Police Dept.

Around 5 a.m. Friday morning, the building on W. 159th Street went up in flames.

"We don't know if it is something related to the campaign or not, it's just too soon in the investigation to know," said Thomas Ahern, ATF Chicago.

Harvey's fire chief says when they arrived, the fire was burning inside the building and the doors were locked.

"It's usually one of three reasons: usually electrical, arson, or someone left something unattended," said Chief Jason Bell, Harvey Fire Dept.

The building's owner wouldn't talk on Friday. His cousin, Princeton Harvey, says the building has a barber shop and the campaign headquarters. When asked if he thinks the fire was political, Harvey said, "Yes ma'am. Without a doubt."

Abney says the fire destroyed three computers, 250 signs, and 10,000 campaign cards that were supposed to be mailed.

"My question to the cowards who did this cowardice act yesterday and today. Watcha going to do now? I ain't going nowhere. I'm right here," Abney said.

Abney says the fire won't stop him, and he's determined to stay in the race. The election will be held April 7.
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