Trumbull town council appointment 'a real thrill' for England native

TRUMBULL — The town’s newest town council member may be from London, but her political involvement has its roots in Nichols.

“I had joined the Nichols Garden Club and I got to know Mary Beth Thornton because she became the club president and I was the vice president,” said Carole Hans, who was recently named by the town council Democrats to fill the seat vacated by Keith Klain. “We got to know each other and then a few weeks ago, I got a text from her asking how would I like to be on the town council.”

Hans’ first thought was to question her qualifications. Despite living in town for more than two decades and volunteering in local political campaigns, she had only recently become a citizen, she said.

“After having helped out with political campaigns starting in around 2010, 2019 was the first time I was ever able to vote for the people that I had campaigned with,” she said. “It was a real thrill. For the first time, I felt like I was actually pulling my weight.”

Hans’ American journey began in 1981. The youngest of six children, she and the siblings closest to her age joined her oldest sister, a native of Barbados, in the United States. Her mother worked at the now defunct American Stock Exchange and Hans, then 17, took a job with a car rental agency.

“In England, school works a little bit differently, so I had already completed high school at 15,” she said. “I had put off applying to university because we were planning on moving, and I actually had been working in a shoe shop for the past eight months.”

After relocating to the U.S., Hans took a temporary job at Avis, and ended up staying for more than 20 years, she said.

“I had been there a few years, living in Brooklyn, and I decided to apply for a continuing education teaching program at NYU,” she said. “I actually got accepted and when I told Avis I was leaving, they offered me a management position if I stayed.”

For the next 20 years, Hans moved from state to state as various opportunities arose with the company. She finally found herself in Trumbull in 1999 when a family illness brought her back closer to her relatives.

“It worked out well, I love it here,” she said.

Despite having spent her childhood in England before being brought “kicking and screaming” to the U.S., Hans said Trumbull now feel like home. Having lived in the Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. areas, Trumbull has been her home longer than anywhere else.

Still, some England vestiges remain, she said.

“I was putting up my Christmas decorations yesterday afternoon, and I was drinking a cup of tea while I was putting them up,” she said.

Also, despite living in the middle of the Patriots/Giants/Jets battleground, she says her favorite football team is West Ham United. And she refers to French fries as chips (properly eaten with vinegar). Hans also refers to American style fried potato chips as crisps, and prefers them in flavors that American might find unusual.

“Oh, everyone I know if they visit England has to bring back English chocolates and flavored crisps for my husband and me,” she said.

Still, in nearly 40 years of living in the U.S., Hans said she has become pretty much Americanized. In fact, she said, she has even developed a bit of a Connecticut accent, though no one here would recognize it.

“When I visit England, people hear me talk and ask me where I’m from,” she said.