Fort Worth Serves As Example to Iraq

City leaders talk success of citizen involvement

By Chris Van Horne
|  Thursday, Aug 25, 2011  |  Updated 6:55 PM CDT
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Some Iraqi nationals have turned to the city of Fort Worth as an example of how city government works in a democracy.

Chris Van Horne, NBCDFW.com

Some Iraqi nationals have turned to the city of Fort Worth as an example of how city government works in a democracy.

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Transitioning to democracy in Iraq has not been an easy task, but Iraqis working for a U.S. agency have turned to Fort Worth to serve as an example of how city government works.

Last week the latest efforts to help struggling governments in Iraq find a way to succeed came to Fort Worth City Hall.

Satie Najm is an Iraqi national who now lives in the Metroplex but spends most of his time working in his homeland for the U.S. Agency for International Development. His job is to help educate elected officials and citizens on how democracy works here.

"One of the big challenges we're facing now, is the involvement of the people, the citizen's participation," said Najm.

And that's why Najm and his colleagues came to Fort Worth, to learn more about participation by interviewing city staff and elected officials.

"The questions that he asked were really interesting," said Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price. "How do the voters get informed? How does the message get out to them? What does local government mean? What does the freedom of choice mean? Good questions that we take for granted sometimes as citizens."

Price said it was an honor to participate in the video that will be translated and then presented to a gathering of Iraqi governors and mayors in Iraq on September 12. She said she's happy to have been able to help friends overseas.

"We also want to encourage them that they can do this," said Price. "If they engage their citizens that they will have a lot better government with engaged citizens."

It's a prospect Najm believes is on the right path with efforts like the project.

"Democracy is still fragile in that region," said Najm. "So they need time and they need the same thing we are providing right now."

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