Herb Kolodoner's resignation Monday night from the Crescent City Council certainly came as a surprise. But if Kolodoner feels he cannot perform his elected duties, we only can respect his decision to step down. It takes a man of character to announce that he believes the public good must be put before his own ego.

Kolodoner worries, rightly or wrongly, that his health problems may prevent him from making the best decision possible. Of course, age or disability is not a reason to disqualify one from the office. Indeed, those very traits can be an advantage by offering experience of years and possessing an enhanced empathy for others. We trust Kolodoner has thoroughly thought over these variables when making his decision.

For the city, now comes the challenge of filling the vacancy. Council members anticipate making a decision about how to do that on April 16.

While we recognize that speed is of the utmost importance, Mayor Dennis Burns ought to call an emergency council meeting for early next week so the public can hear what those options are in advance of any decision. City residents should have at least a few days to discuss those alternatives and to let their council representatives know which solution they prefer.

The process already may be established via the city charter or influenced by state law, and we suspect this is the case. If so, residents ought to hear what the process is before the council sets a timetable to fill the seat. If the process involves an appointment of some sort, residents then will have additional time to suggest candidates for Burns or the council to consider.

Finally, should a special election be necessary, we hope it doesn't turn rancorous. The last council election in November was fairly clean as far as the candidates go, but a few others opted for a mean-spirited, mudslinging approach while campaigning. Such tactics only serve to be divisive. After all, we can agree to disagree yet remain ladies and gentlemen. All we have to do is stick to the issues and the merits of each candidates' proposed solutions to them.

That may be a little high-sounding for some. But as Kolodoner showed during his resignation, people of character place the public good before their own selfish interests.