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Kalle Benallie

The only Native candidate in the Tennessee state Legislature will have a quiet primary election Thursday night as he heads to November’s general election.

Tennessee state Rep. Bryan Terry doesn’t have a Republican opponent in the state primary election. Neither does his Democratic opponent, who he has already beaten, twice.

The Choctaw Nation citizen told ICT in an email that he understands the significance of his position. Terry has been in office since 2014, representing district 48. The district covers part of Rutherford county and a part of the city, Murfreesboro, located in central Tennessee.

“President Andrew Jackson, a Tennessean, signed the Indian Removal Act of 1830 and my tribe, Choctaw, was the first tribe removed to Oklahoma. We weren’t wanted here,” he said. “I often say that I am a caucus of one and understand that I am in a position that Jackson would have never considered. Leadership is about going to where you aren’t expected and when you go there, make a positive impact. I keep that in mind, not only as a state representative, but as a Native American.”

Terry will be running against Democratic nominee Matt Ferry in November for a two-year term. He previously beat Ferry in 2018 and 2020.

He said he decided to run again because he wants to “continue to see challenges for our communities, particularly thrust upon us by an ever encroaching federal government with failed policies. We continue to need strong and effective leadership to ensure Tennessee is headed in the right direction.”

He is currently the chair of the health committee, serves on the insurance committee and calendar and rules committee. Tennessee, a known conservative state, has a Republican majority in the House.

Terry has a bachelor’s in psychology from the University of Oklahoma, graduated medical school from the Oklahoma College of Medicine and performed his anesthesiology residency at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

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The top issues in district 48 that he’s concerned about are: the landfill, inflation, the economy, education, safety and healthcare.

“There is some turnover in local leadership; thus, there may be an opportunity to have more solutions relative to our solid waste problem,” he said. “I serve as the chairman of health, and assuming I get reelected and remain in that position, I know that there are several issues that will be before my committee. I will focus on either improving or disposing of those bills.”

An issue that Terry will try to advocate for is to build the Native American Cultural Center in Tennessee. He said the state a few years ago put forth some funding to help the Native American Indian Association of Tennessee build it, but there has been no progress.

“Unfortunately, with inflation and other costs associated with building, the NAIATN is short funds to build it. I am advocating for more funding to be in next year’s budget to finally build the center,” he said.

He said he knows his constituents are concerned with safety, healthcare, education and jobs. Additionally, he also considers “the impact on Native Americans in Tennessee.”

The Rutherford County polls open on Aug. 4 at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. Central Time. Click here for more information on voting in Tennessee.

For ICT election-related content, click here

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