By Tony E. Windsor

The upcoming Laurel municipal election features a rematch between two candidates who squared off in the last Mayoral race in 2021. Incumbent Mayor John Shwed will once again face challenger, Mark Sikora. 

The two candidates for Laurel mayor responded to questions outlining their election campaign positions. Following are the candidates and their responses:



Incumbent Mayor Shwed resides on Lake Drive, and is a retired DuPont employee with 27 and a half years of service. Following DuPont, he worked three years as the startup CEO of the Delaware Manufacturing Alliance, a nonprofit organization created to provide business and technical assistance to Delaware’s small and medium sized manufacturers. From 1997 to 2003 Shwed helped establish five nonprofit organizations with the Lions International organization and in the Laurel community. In 2003, he began working in the Laurel School District in a variety of assignments and is currently an instructional para professional in a classroom with students with special needs in the Laurel Middle School. Shwed’s wife of 47 years, Bobbi, passed away in 2010. They have two daughters and four grandchildren. Both daughters and the grandchildren graduated from Laurel High School.

Q. What do you see as the most critical issues facing the town of Laurel?

The key to Laurel’s success long term is economic development. We have a two pronged strategy to accomplish that objective. The first is to revitalize the area along Broad Creek as part of the vision known as “The Ramble.” We have pieces started in collaboration with the state of Delaware and community partnerships with the Laurel Historical Society and the Laurel Redevelopment Corporation. Tidewater Nature Park will be developed on the north side of Broad Creek between Polar St. and Central Avenue. A walkway is being planned which will run from the Mill Dam on the east to Roger Fisher Laurel River Park on the west.  

Historical properties will be redeveloped and hopefully new businesses will start up. This is all consistent with our new branding “Laurel, where great things happen naturally.” We want tourists to come and kayak on the creek, walk and fish along the creek, enjoy our parks, visit our restaurants and future businesses. 

The second prong promotes development in the Route 13 corridor. We have seen new businesses take root there and we forecast more to come. We want economic development in both areas so that we increase the town’s base of wealth on the tax rolls which will enable us to do other things while stabilizing our tax rates. 

We need to continue our programs of community policing to make our town safer while welcoming and celebrating the diversity of our community through community initiatives such as “One Laurel.” 

Q. What is the primary reason you seek to maintain your seat as mayor of the town of Laurel?

When I was discharged from the Army in 1966 I arrived in Laurel with my wife Bobbie, a new six month old baby, and a job as an engineer with the DuPont Company’s Nylon Plant. The people of Laurel welcomed us and helped us integrate into the community. I and my family have spent a lifetime working to repay the community for that welcome. I would like to continue that payback for a while longer.

Q. Do you have any special qualifications or interests that you feel make you a beneficial addition to the council?

I believe my experience in a variety of assignments in both the private and public sectors has helped me provide effective, caring, team-building leadership.

Q. What do you feel makes Laurel a good place to live and raise a family?

The greatness of this small community lies in its people. People of all races and faiths who are welcoming, hardworking, and united in the same vision – to make Laurel a great small community even better for all. Our community’s children learn in state-of-the-art new schools.

We are small enough to avoid the pressures of large city living, but close enough to visit those cities or the beautiful beaches. I took that early DuPont retirement plan because my wife Bobbie and I did not want to relocate to another DuPont location. We never regretted that decision. 



Mark Sikora resides on 4th St. with his wife of 47 years, Patricia (Garrison) Sikora. He is a retired, former owner of Sikora & Son, a window and door repair and installation business he operated for 35 years.

Q. What do you see as the most critical issues facing the town of Laurel?

There are issues at many different levels and the main thing is that leadership is at fault. The recent fires at the Rigbie Hotel and Globe buildings, have left Main Street with very few businesses, other than the banks and a coffee shop. Developing business inside the town should be a main driver. We do not have entrepreneurs who open businesses in our community and hire our citizens, we need more of this to happen. 

I retired here and I am in it for the fight. I just bought a second home because a buyer was interested in purchasing the home to convert to multi-family housing. I said “no.” These are historic works of art and I have a passion for working on old, historic homes. I will do my best to make sure that this home and my resident home are the best homes on the block. 

I have talked to many people in the town and there is the feeling that we have a divided community. It seems we are divided between the east side of town and the west side of town, which is referred to as ‘the other side of the tracks,’ and has a larger black population. These people have not been as involved or seem to fit in with the organization of the town that is in office, or has been in office. But, these are good people too and they have concerns and they have hopes and wishes. 

On the east side there are new people like me who have bought homes and some have bailed because they don’t see change coming that is meaningful, or that the town can survive on. It is crucial that all people feel they are being considered and respected when decisions are being made.

When you Google the ‘worst towns in Delaware,’ Laurel pops up as number one. The last time I ran for office, Laurel was ranked number five. Safety is definitely a concern among our citizens. Our police should be more visible. These are just a few of the issues facing our town.

Q. What is the primary reason you seek to run for the office of mayor of Laurel?

My primary reason for running for mayor lies in my feeling that someone needs to care for the people of this town. I believe the town people have accepted me as a concerned member of their community who wants these quality of life issues addressed.

Q. Do you have any special qualifications or interests that you feel make you a beneficial addition to the council?

I have served my community as a hands on individual and held a variety of jobs from butcher to a historic preservation advocate and a millwork specialist. I have often been called on as an expert consultant for large manufacturers such as Marvin and Pella Windows. My job qualifications and more importantly people skills, are extensive and easily checked or expanded upon.

Q. What do you feel makes Laurel a good place to live and raise a family?

To put it simply, the people are great! Even the ones you may not agree with can be talked with and good and reasonable solutions can be reached. Laurel is a great town with astounding potential if the citizens are informed and allowed to participate. If folks are respected, if workers do their jobs in a professional way, I have no doubt that Laurel will emerge as one of the best little towns to live in America.

The remaining seats coming up for election this year are uncontested. Council President Chris Calio, who represents the at-large 4th Ward, and Cheryl Martin a 4th Ward councilwoman are running unopposed. The only other seat belongs to Ward 1 Councilman Randy Lee. Lee, who came on the council in 2004, did not file for re-election. The sole filing for the Ward 1 seat came from 6th Street resident, Carlos Oliveras, who will be named as new councilman after the March 23 elections. 

The Laurel Municipal Elections will be held on Thursday, March 23, at the Laurel Fire Hall located at 205 Tenth Street, Laurel, from 1 to 8 p.m.