He’s been elected over and over, and has held the position for 22 years. But, in 22 years, he’s collected his annual payment and not done a lick of city work.
Harvey Seely is the longtime constable for the city of Liberty. He makes $1 a year and makes no official decisions.
“It’s all pretty much for the heck of it,” Seely said. “You just run for office so you can have fun with your friends. We tease each other about it.”
The constable position for the City of Liberty has been honorary since the mid-1960s when the city assembled a Charter Review Commission.
One of the commission’s suggested changes was abolishing some elective offices, including treasurer, clerk, constable and auditor, and replacing them with appointed positions.
But, in a vote, the people of Liberty said no.
The City Council found a way around that vote. With an ordinance, they created the position of a city administrator. They also made the elected treasurer, clerk, constable and auditor honorary positions. The winners in these races are awarded a symbolic $1 a year, and then step out of the way as appointed officials do the job.
The city’s auditing is done by an outside firm, the city’s public safety is helmed by the police chief, the city clerk’s tasks are completed by the deputy city clerk and the finance director does the work of a treasurer.
Two of the honorary races are uncontested. David M. Fulk will collect his small sum for the year and hold on to the title of city clerk for another term. The same is true for Margaret P. James, the current treasurer.
The auditor position has two contenders, though both have held the title. The current auditor Terry Mills faces Robert Rose.
While two of the four honorary positions are contested, only one of five elected positions that make up the mayor and city council gives the voters a choice.
And the city’s constable race, the one Seely keeps winning year after year, is typically contested.
Since the early 1990s, “Diamond” Gene Gutelius has challenged the former Liberty barber to no avail. He said he and his friends were talking about the presidential election, which had three noticeable candidates: Bill Clinton, George Bush and Ross Perot.
“I’m sitting with some friends and we were talking about no one running against him for constable,” he said. “Why, if there is only one person running he or she will get elected, so why not a little competition?”
Seely did lose once. The first time he ran for the spot he was a write-in and lost to the other candidate for a pretty simple reason.
“He had a bigger family than me; he had 11 votes and I had eight,” Seely said.
But the tides turned when he officially filed.
Gutelius said Seely’s 60 years as the Liberty barber has given him a distinct edge. It’s also garnered the race attention over the years.
“At one time he cut the football players’ hair and there’s a bunch of votes from their parents,” he said, adding that he simply couldn’t compete with someone in the public eye.
Both candidates agree it’s all in good fun, though.
“It’s very friendly,” Gutelius said. “I saw him the other day. I offered to buy him a hamburger.”
“If I ever lose, I hope Gene wins,” Seely said.