Born July 12, 1952
Appointed September 1984
Elected November 1985
Re-elected 1987, 1991
Came out in 1993
Elected to Washington D.C. Neighborhood Commission November 2002
Bill Crews is accompanied in this photograph by leaders of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) at a PFLAG Regional Conference in Chicago, Illinois.
Interview with Bill Crews for Out and Elected in the USA
Q: How did you get to Melbourne and become the mayor?
A: Steve and I had been together five years. I worked in Des Moines, he worked in Marshalltown about 55 miles Northeast of Des Moines. The seeing-each-other-on-weekends thing was old and we wanted to buy a house, so Melbourne was the only town in between. We moved there in May of ’84 into a ranch type of thing on two thirds of an acre with cornfields as far as you could see. Very nice. We met some of the neighbors that summer at a neighborhood picnic, and one of them was a city council member who worked for UPS. His wife, after I came out – to jump ahead a bit here – she was interviewed by a guy doing a feature for the front page of the Style section of the Washington Post. We’d been there for nine years before we came out and he asked her if it was a big surprise, and she said, “Well, no, not really. We’re not exactly brain-dead out here.”
So, we were at this picnic getting to know each other, telling people what you do, and I told the UPS guy that I was an attorney, working for the state at the time as the governor’s river coordinator. And he said, “It sounds like you would make a good mayor.” I said, “Well, I like to get involved, but I don’t know anybody in town.” We’d only been there three months or so.
The evening of the next meeting of the council he called – we had the lady over from Sears measuring for drapes – and he said, “Well, do you want to do it? We’re all ready to appoint you.” I said, “Well, give me a few minutes to get rid of this Sears lady and I’ll come over and talk to you.”
They were over at the community center just three blocks away. So, I walked over and introduced myself and listened to what they said – which wasn’t much in terms of expectations or interest or questions – they were just kind of glad somebody would do it. The previous mayor had resigned and moved out of town because of a change of jobs, and they had just gone through this big sewer project and hooked up the rural water system in the last few years. It had been somewhat contentious, so nobody else really wanted to do it. Here they had this new guy in town who, as it turns out, was imminently qualified if I do say so myself, so my ego wouldn’t let me turn ‘em down.
I had once wanted to run for Congress and had done a lot of work in the state Republican party, so I agreed to be the mayor. I had to run the next year and won all 57 votes cast.
For information on a touring exhibit version of Out and Elected in the USA: 1974-2004, contact Ron Schlittler at firstname.lastname@example.org.