At a St. Paul DFL convention Sunday, City Council candidate Isaac Russell said he was dropping out after a greater number of delegates voted to endorse his opponent, Saura Jost. Three days later, Russell announced that he's back in the race to represent the city's Third Ward.

In a news release Wednesday evening, Russell said friends, neighbors and supporters asked him to continue his campaign after Sunday's convention.

"While I consider myself a proud Democrat, I'm obliged to take this to heart," Russell said in a statement. "Our democracy is strongest when everyone has an opportunity to be heard through the ballot box."

All seven council seats are up for election in November, and four of those races — including in the Third Ward — will not feature incumbents. The Third Ward includes St. Paul's Highland Park and Macalester-Groveland neighborhoods.

The DFL stamp of approval has long carried weight in Minnesota's largely liberal capital city, with the promise of campaign resources and coordination. The conventions offer DFLers an early chance to vet candidates.

The process has drawn some criticism from St. Paulites who say it narrows the candidate pool before most voters have the chance to engage with campaigns. Council elections are nonpartisan and decided by ranked-choice voting. Candidates are free to file until the August deadline.

For decades, the DFL has asked candidates at conventions whether they will suspend their campaign if they do not get the party's endorsement. Russell, director of public policy at the Center for Economic Inclusion and chair of the city's Neighborhood Safety Community Council, said he would do so during Sunday's convention and in a following interview.

"I do think there are legitimate concerns about such a small number of people making decisions for tens of thousands of people," he said in the interview. "I do think it's a question the party's going to have to ask itself."

In the convention's first ballot, Russell earned support from 40% of delegates, while Jost earned 56%. Candidates usually need 60% of votes to win the endorsement, but Russell conceded early, saying he did not want to waste delegates' time — a gesture met with fanfare from the crowd.

Jost, an engineer and former Macalester-Groveland Community Council board member, said in an interview after the convention that her campaign efforts were "just getting started."

"We need to engage folks across our ward, engage people who have maybe been left out of politics and make sure that they have a say as well," she said.