Axios Austin

Picture of the Austin skyline.

Hiya, Monday!

☁️ Today's weather: High of 79, with a 20% chance of showers.

🎂 Happy birthday to our Axios Austin members Shelley Nall and Regina Jonker!

Today's newsletter is 867 words — a 3-minute read.

1 big thing: Travis DA campaign heats up

Jeremy Sylestine and José Garza

Jeremy Sylestine, left, and José Garza. Photo courtesy of the Jeremy Sylestine campaign; photo by Win O'Neal, CCR Studios, courtesy José Garza Campaign

A shadowy group's campaign mailer has roiled the Travis County district attorney's race.

Why it matters: The Democratic face-off between incumbent José Garza and Jeremy Sylestine is the marquee local race in tomorrow's primaries, involving key questions about Austin's public safety priorities amid tensions with the state government over policing.

  • Garza told Axios he is focused on ending gun violence, addressing the root problems of domestic violence and treating drug use as a public health crisis.
  • Sylestine said Garza has "a weak approach to crimes that matter to Travis County citizens."

Driving the news: A group called Saving Austin, with an address of a UPS store in Irving, has sent out mailers declaring that Garza is "filling Austin's streets with pedophiles and killers."

  • Sylestine tells Axios his campaign had nothing to do with the mailer.
  • "That kind of discourse doesn't have a place in a race like this," he said.

Behind the scenes: No entity called "Saving Austin" has registered as a political action committee with the Texas Ethics Commission.

  • On Friday, lawyers for the Garza campaign sent the group a cease and desist letter. "This sham organization — 'Saving Austin' — is flooding Travis County with cowardly, misleading, and divisive attack ads, violating multiple laws in the process," Garza campaign attorney Mimi Marziani said in a statement.

What we're watching: Turnout. Just a shade over 50,000 Democratic votes in Travis County were cast early, or just under 6% of Travis County's 891,000 registered voters.

  • Garza likely holds the upper hand with core Democratic voters — he has the endorsements of major local Democratic clubs, labor unions and U.S. Reps. Lloyd Doggett and Greg Casar.
  • But a low-turnout election can lead to unexpected results.

Go deeper: Read our two-minute interviews with Sylestine and Garza.

More on money in the race

2. 🏠 Charted: Luxury home prices in decline

Data: Redfin; Note: Luxury homes are in the top 5% by metro-area market value, while non-luxury homes are in the 35th to 65th percentile; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Redfin; Note: Luxury homes are in the top 5% by metro-area market value, while non-luxury homes are in the 35th to 65th percentile; Chart: Axios Visuals

Austin saw the biggest decline nationally in the sales price of luxury homes, according to the latest Redfin data.

Why it matters: Just as the giddy highs of the pandemic housing market touched everyone in town, apparently the decline is, too.

Zoom in: The typical Austin-area luxury home sold for $1.69 million in the fourth quarter of 2023, an 8.6% year-over-year drop, per Redfin.

Worth mentioning: The Redfin report defined luxury homes as those estimated to be in the top 5% of their respective metro area based on market value.

Also: Nationally, the total number of luxury listings increased most in Austin — 44.5% year over year — as a glut of houses stuck around the buyers' market.

The big picture: Wealthy home shoppers, especially those paying with cash, are making up a growing share of the U.S. housing market, Axios' Sami Sparber reports.

Meanwhile: Higher mortgage rates hit first-time and middle-income homebuyers hardest, according to Redfin.

  • With more of them shut out from homeownership, price jumps for non-luxury U.S. homes moderated.

State of play: Luxury prices rose nearly twice as much nationally (+8.8%) as non-luxury prices (+4.6%) at the end of 2023, according to Redfin.

  • That's partly because many high-end homebuyers are coming in with cash and not worried about mortgage rates, per Redfin.

Go deeper: A record share of U.S. homes are mortgage-free

3. 🤠 The Roundup: Wrangling the news

W.C. Clark, left, playing music.

W.C. Clark (left) and Lee Roy Parnell playing at a Chicago blues festival in 2002. Photo: Linda Vartoogian/Getty Images

🕯️ Austin musician W.C. Clark, known as "the Godfather of Austin Blues" and a mentor to Stevie Ray Vaughan, has died at 84. (Michael Corcoran's Overserved)

🎾 Yuan Yue of China won the ATX Open singles title. (Austin American-Statesman)

💸 Teams of Central Texas high school students raised nearly $725,000 to support research, advocacy and patient care for people with lymphoma and leukemia. (ATX Good News)

👟 Texas Longhorns receiver Xavier Worthy set an NFL Combine 40-yard dash record of 4.21 seconds. (ESPN)

4. Social calendar

Illustration of a pair of Aviator sunglasses with a calendar reflected in the lenses.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

It's the proverbial calm before the SXSW storm. Here are our weekday picks.

🩰 Practice dance moves at a Countertechnique workshop at First Street Studio at 5:15pm tonight. Starting at $10.

🗳️ Vote for your favored candidates from 7am-7pm Tuesday at seemingly every public school and church. Free.

🎸 Catch a performance of Sammy Rae & The Friends at Stubb's at 7pm Tuesday. Tickets start at $32.

🎵 Check out the great lineup of Matt the Electrician, Caroline Hale, Primo The Alien and Kalu James at the 04 Center. 7pm Wednesday, $20.

🧛‍♀️ Scribble answers to "Twilight" Trivia night at the Brewtorium. Registration starts at 6pm Wednesday. Free.

📙 Hear Fariha Róisín talk about her new poetry collection, about trauma and self-love, hosted by Reverie Books, at Captain Quackenbush's Soundspace at 6:30pm Thursday. Free.

5. ☕️ 1 cup of joe to go

The inside of Praxis Coffee

Praxis Coffee, located inside Lustre Pearl East. Photo: Nicole Cobler/Axios

👋 Nicole here. I recently swung by Praxis Coffee Roasters, located in Lustre Pearl East.

The vibe: Dog-friendly with plenty of seating for remote workers during the week and ample parking.

  • Look for their seasonal menu when you visit.

To order: I got the toasted coconut latte with oat milk and two tacos, and a very polite dog leaned on my leg while I waited for my coffee. The latte was pretty sweet but a nice pick-me-up on a Monday morning.

  • Pastries and coffee bags are also available for purchase, and the shop occasionally offers coffee-making classes.

📍 If you go: Praxis is located at 114 Linden St., and you can find their other location at Lustre Pearl South, 10400 Menchaca Road.

Thanks to Chloe Gonzales for editing and Kate Sommers-Dawes and Yasmeen Altaji for copy editing this newsletter.

👂 Asher is listening with his kids to John Lithgow sing this song about gnus.

🪂 Nicole is back.

And congrats to Clayton C., a lawyer who specializes in venture capital deals, and the three dozen other readers who correctly answered our Friday news quiz.