Public comments to be capped at 5 minutes in Mundelein

  • Mundelein Mayor Steve Lentz proposed implementing a five-minute limit for public comments at board meetings. The measure passed Monday night.

    Mundelein Mayor Steve Lentz proposed implementing a five-minute limit for public comments at board meetings. The measure passed Monday night.

Updated 7/27/2021 8:14 PM

Audience members wishing to comment at Mundelein village board meetings will be limited to five minutes each starting next month.

A divided board approved the restriction Monday night, with Mayor Steve Lentz breaking a 3-3 tie in favor of the change. The rule will go into effect at the next board meeting, set for Aug. 9.


The limit can be waived by the mayor or whoever leads a meeting if the mayor is absent.

As is traditional for governmental agencies, audience members can stand at a lectern and address Mundelein officials on virtually any subject during a section of meetings set aside for such comments. In Mundelein, it's usually near the start of meetings.

Lentz said he became interested in limiting the duration of public comments after a group discussion at a state municipal conference. During that talk, Lentz said, he learned Mundelein was one of the few towns represented that didn't limit individual public comments.

The public comment portions of a few board meetings in recent years were dominated by speakers who controlled the lectern for 15 minutes or more, Lentz said. That led to longer-than-usual meetings and prompted some frustrated audience members to leave.

Lentz said he hopes the five-minute limit will allow more people to speak at each meeting. He encouraged people who have a lot to tell village officials to send emails, especially if they have supporting material.

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Lentz had support from trustees Kerston Russell, Jenny Ross and Tim Wilson.

Wilson suggested the public comment section of meetings "is not the platform to use" if someone can't make a point in five minutes.

Russell encouraged people to call officials if they want to discuss an issue at length.

"This restriction is not stopping you from speaking your mind," Russell said.

Trustee Eric Schwenk was among those opposing the change, saying people rarely speak for more than five minutes.

"This is not something we are struggling with in our community often enough to warrant a change," he said.

As for Russell's invitation to call trustees, Schwenk said speaking at a board meeting can be empowering.

Schwenk was joined in opposition by trustees Kara Lambert and Sol Cabachuela.


Cabachuela voiced concern for people who might need translators or have disabilities requiring them to take longer than five minutes to speak.

Lentz said he would be accommodating in such cases.

A Mundelein staff survey of 14 other suburbs revealed that 11 limit people making public comments to either three or five minutes.

Some towns have time limits for the overall public comment period, and some require audience members who wish to speak at board meetings to fill out request forms.

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