I’ve had some personal involvement with a provision passed by the legislature this most recent session concerning uncontested races for municipal office. The new law says that, where only one candidate for the office qualifies for the municipal ballot, “an election may not be held.” (See here and here for my involvement — short version: my side lost.)
I’m not going to make a big case for the wisdom of the General Assembly’s approach. If the ballot laws are stringent enough to exclude all but one from the ballot or interest for the position is so low that only one person is stepping up for the job, the General Assembly apparently decided that having an “election” is a bit of a waste of time. Your vote may make you feel good, but in terms of functionality, it’s not accomplishing much.
What was notable to me was the strength of the push back from municipal office holders and their supporters. That’s with respect to a relatively minor issue — after all, they still get to keep their jobs. But, it offered a window into why getting rid of township offices is so unlikely. These people are politically active and fiercely protective. The people who might favor getting rid of local offices in theory are mostly not as politically active and don’t have a fire in their belly for the task. It’s asymmetric warfare.