William Shaw was born on July 31, 1937, in Fulton, Arkansas. As a child, Shaw moved to St. Louis, Missouri with his family. As a teenager, he moved to Chicago, Illinois, where he attended Crane High School. Initially pursuing a career in boxing, Shaw suffered a humiliating defeat in the ring. He then chose a political career instead.
One of his first jobs in politics was as an assistant to Alderman Wilson Frost of Chicago’s 34th Ward. In 1982, Shaw was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives, as a democrat, where he served for ten years. He was then elected to the Illinois Senate in 1993. During his two decades in the Illinois General Assembly, Shaw served as a member of the Senate Energy & Environment Committee and the Task Force on Electric Deregulation. As a member of the Senate Local Government Committee, Shaw was instrumental in the redevelopment of the Historic Pullman District on Chicago’s South Side.
In 1997, Shaw was elected Mayor of the City of Dolton, Illinois, while maintaining his senatorial position in Springfield. Shaw has been an ardent supporter of worker’s rights legislation. He has also been instrumental in promoting legislation that would guarantee a minimum of $4,225 to be spent on the education of each child in Illinois.
Shaw is married and the father of three children.