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New health director hired in Mission

Steven Kotsatos joins the City of Mission staff with more than two decades of government experience and 11 years of environmental health service experience under his belt. The Ohio native became the health director March 20, and so far, he is enjoying his time in the new role. 

“I like it. Everyone here is very professional, very welcoming and very helpful,” Kotsatos said. “The city staff is great. It’s really awesome.” 

Although he is new to Mission, the 50-year-old is not-so-new to the Valley or even Hidalgo County. Most recently, Kotsatos was the health director for the City of McAllen since 2017. He originally moved to Texas in 2011 when he became the health inspector for the City of San Antonio before moving to the state health department. 

Now as Mission’s health director, Kotsatos oversees all the food safety inspections for every restaurant, school cafeteria, food truck, daycare and any temporary event where food is available to the public. He also manages health permits, mosquito spraying and animal control services. But the food safety aspect is the bulk of his job. 

“It’s really about educating the public on safe food practices, safe food handling practices and protecting the public from any kind of environmental hazard that may happen with food,” Kotsatos said. “We’re here to safeguard the public. We are here to protect public health by doing regular food safety inspections. And by doing that, we’re educating the business owners, business operators and employees on good food safety practices.”  

The health director said he pursued this field because he has a strong interest in science and biology. He spoke keenly about the more scientific aspect of his job, like monitoring bacterial growth and regulating temperatures. It’s a technical field, he said. And it’s been a passion since entering the profession 12 years ago.  

But even before Kotsatos enrolled in the food science field as an adult, he spent his childhood in and around restaurant kitchens. His grandfather immigrated from Greece to New York City, where he became a gourmet chef and eventually owned five restaurants. Kotsatos said he has memories of being in the kitchen and learning from his grandfather, which ultimately influenced his career later in life. 

“I never thought I would be on the regulation end of the restaurant but it’s really kind of cool to be on the other side of it,” the 50-year-old health director said. “Just seeing all the hard work that goes into being an owner of a restaurant, and then looking at the public education part of it…it’s definitely something I had a real interest in.” 

And when it comes to his role with the City of Mission, Kotsatos said he hopes to involve the community in the operations and day-to-day activities. Eventually, he would like to create a farmers market where people can sell their products and have a regular event to gather over the weekend. 

“I look forward to being in this role for the city of Mission and really create a lot of new projects and different things that the community can engage in,” he said. “The farmers market, if that’s something the city wants to do, and just being more active with the community. Just having more of an impact with everyday residents and the government.”

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