Terry served as the Arizona attorney general from 2003 to 2010, addressing major issues ranging from the fallout of the financial services market and the mortgage crisis to border smuggling and money laundering, and protecting consumers and the environment. He served as chair of the Council of Western Attorneys General (CWAG), as a member of CWAG’s executive committee and as co-chair of the Tobacco Committee for the National Association of Attorneys General. His fellow attorneys general saluted his anticrime successes in 2010 with the Kelley-Wyman Award, the association’s highest recognition. In addition, Goddard was the Democratic nominee for governor of Arizona in 2010.
From 1995 to 2002, Terry served as Arizona state director for the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. During that time, he was elected to the board of the Central Arizona Water Conservation District, representing Maricopa County, and served as a public member of the board of the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco and as a trustee of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Terry began his legal career at the Arizona Attorney General's Office as a white-collar crime prosecutor. From 1984 to 1990, he served as mayor of Phoenix and served until he resigned the office in 1990 to run for Governor. As mayor, he was recognized for dramatically increasing citizen participation in city decisions and initiating successful efforts in economic development, urban planning, crime prevention, arts and culture, and historic preservation. He conceived and presided over the Phoenix Futures Forum, the largest and most thorough city visioning process in the US. Terry was elected president of the National League of Cities in 1988 and was named "Municipal Leader of the Year" by City & County magazine the same year. Phoenix was recognized as an All-American City in 1989.
Terry served an active duty tour in the US Navy and retired as a commander after 27 years in the Naval Reserves. He has taught graduate courses on urban affairs and other topics at the College of Public Programs and the College of Architecture and Design at Arizona State University and in the National State Attorneys General Program at Columbia Law School.