Madison alder candidate profile: Terry runs for District 8

Madison alder candidate profile: Terry runs for District 8

John Terry Jr., 61, is running for alderman for District 8 this April.

Terry is formerly homeless and a recovered alcoholic, and he is proud of it (his struggles were captured in a previous Madison Commons piece). He believes the experiences he acquired from being homeless and addicted give him insight into how the homeless population lives in Madison, specifically in District 8.

Ald. David Ahrens voiced concerns that Terry is not a “serious candidate” for the position of alderman. In an email interview Ahrens explained this is due to Terry’s lack of funds and political experience.

Terry, however, believes he is a serious candidate for the position. While he may not be the candidate Madison is used to seeing, Terry believes he can bring a new perspective to the Common Council.

“Since I would be representing the 8th District, I’m going to be very inclusive. I’m also going to be asking for their [students’] help because this is new to me. It would be like a symbiotic relationship. I think that would work very well. It is obvious that the students care. And I think a lot of them are like me: there are things that we want to see done, but we don’t know how to do it,” Terry said.

Terry’s main platform is familiar: affordable housing. But he adds a new facet. He is concerned not only with affordable housing for students, but also with affordable housing for the homeless population in Madison.

When he was first trying to stay sober, he lived in a basement apartment on Sherman Avenue that had mold in the summer and no heat it the winter.

“It was not conducive to my sobriety, and I know a lot of students stay in places like that. I can resonate with that. And plus also I think I have an understanding,no, an appreciation for their struggle,” Terry said.

Terry has been campaigning mostly on Facebook and said he visited the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery and Union South, locations on the UW-Madison campus, to gather signatures for his candidacy papers.

“I must’ve resonated with a bunch of students because I only needed 20 signatures, and I gathered 76,” Terry said.

Terry gives additional reasons for running for alderman of District 8. Besides his unique perspective and his experiences of homelessness, Terry was spurred on by the amount of student organizations who have asked to interview him.

“It shows me that the students have an acute awareness of what’s going on, but they are like me: they don’t know what to do,” Terry said.

The city of Madison’s spring 2017 election is on April 4.