Bill Crews served as the mayor of Melbourne, Iowa from 1984 through 1998. He attracted national attention for being openly gay, having come out of the closet at the GBLT Equality March on Washington in 1993. During Crews' service as mayor of Melbourne, the city built a new fire station and library, improved water and sewer infrastructure and increased cash reserves.

Formerly a moderate Republican, he claimed "I was a Republican from before the fundamentalists took over the Iowa party. I believe in progressive, fiscally responsible government. I am now a registered Democrat. I'm pro-choice; I've always been." His father, a United Methodist minister, was killed in a car accident in 1973. Bill Crews was also an active United Methodist after coming out until relocating with his partner to Washington, D.C., in 1998.

Crews had run for the Iowa Senate in 1992 but lost a close race by just 57 votes. After moving to D.C., Crews served two terms as an elected Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner (SMD 6C07) in the District of Columbia neighborhood of Capitol Hill. Crews also served as the Zoning Administrator for the District of Columbia from 2005 through 2007.