Hannon was appointed to the position by the town's Democratic Committee after former Mayor David Delle Donna resigned. Delle Donna was found guilty of corruption charges after a jury trial, but plans to appeal the case.
The mayoralty of tiny Guttenberg is a part-time job. Hannon will likely earn less than Delle Donna's $7,700 full-year salary. He said he will donate the money privately to a hospital. There will be a new election for mayor in November.
In an interview last week, Hannon said that he has never held an elected office, but that everyone in Town Hall has been helpful to the "new guy on the block."
"I want to keep the town safe and of course [work] on the quality of life," said Hannon. "The people in Town Hall are magnificent, and everyone has been really helpful to me."
Hannon was a firefighter during the Korean War, a superintendent for the New York College of Podiatric Medicine, and a housekeeper for numerous hospitals. He said his experiences of helping others in the past have shown him how important the quality of life in Guttenberg is.
In honor of Matthew
Hannon's grandson Matthew, 2, was born with cancer that led to chemotherapy and the amputation of his arm at only 1 year old. For this reason Hannon said that he will donate his salary to the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital for Children.
"I'll be happy that I was able to help children with cancer," Hannon said last week. "I'm going to work very, very hard for as long as I'm here."
Goals: police, parks
Along with hoping to bolster the police force, Hannon said he will be working with the Town Council to turn the Guttenberg-owned parcel of land beneath the Galaxy Apartments into a park.
He said the town is looking for grants, and he hopes a park can open there by September.
Although Guttenberg is only four blocks across, Hannon said that creating green space is important for the students at the Anna L. Klein Elementary School, the only school in the town.
Thus, he also hopes to rebuild the property surrounding the school and create a recreation center for its students.
Hannon said that the number of children attending Guttenberg's sole school have outgrown its facilities.
He also said last week that he worries about how higher taxes could affect residents.
Experience teaches best
Hannon has five sons, 10 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. He said that he has learned from experiences in his past.
As a superintendent at the New York College of Podiatric Medicine, Hannon had to do a job he'd never done before. The school president, along with doctors and professors, would bring their issues to him.
Hannon said that around 1972, the college president asked him to refurbish the school at the end of the school year, so that when its doors opened in September it would be a new place.
He was proud of the outcome of his work.
"They had a better experience for learning," Hannon said last week. He said students and professors appreciated the change.
Hannon said that being a firefighter during the Korean War taught him huge life lessons. He largely fought fires on aircrafts during his tour of duty.
The occupation of firefighting is close to Hannon's heart. One of Hannon's relatives, Dana Hannon, perished rescuing people out of the World Trade Center attacks.
"To be a firefighter is the greatest job in the world," Hannon said. "[Firefighters are] able to help someone out who is in desperate need of help, and are willing to go [into a fire] and try to save that person."
He is also proud of his grandson, Jeremy Hannon, who just completed United States National Guard basic training at Fort Benning, Ga. Jeremy will be home for a short time before being deployed by the National Guard.
James Hannon himself became disabled during his service in Korea. While going into a fire, one of his fellow firefighters were too close to him, and the incident resulted in him falling to the ground. He injured his right leg and stayed in the hospital for three months.
Opening the mayor's office
Hannon said that being mayor was a great honor.
While his interim position will end in November, he said that he plans to run for election. "I am going to submit my papers," said Hannon.
Since he is retired from full-time work, Hannon hopes that he will be more accessible to the public and their needs.
Although there are several projects in the works, Hannon said that he wants to know what aid Guttenberg residents need.
He said he will open up the mayor's office on Monday June 16 for the public to voice their concerns from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and from 1:15 p.m. to 3:15. He asked that residents with concerns call his office for an appointment at (201) 868-3304.