Barbara was born and raised in Corpus Christi, Texas. She graduated from W.B. Ray High School (class of 1984, valedictorian), and then was accepted to attend the University of Texas, in Austin. After a full review of Barbara’s academic credentials, the University of Texas offered to Barbara its Presidential Scholarship Award as an incentive to secure her attendance. Barbara completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Texas in 1989 with a degree in Petroleum Engineering.  She was then accepted into the University of Houston – School of Law – from which she earned her Juris Doctorate degree in 1992.  

Barbara is a distinguished professional who is always engaged with her community. From 1992 through 2004, Barbara was co-owner of an independent oil and gas exploration and production company active in the development of natural gas reserves in South Texas. In 2004, she formed her own exploration and production company, Canales Exploration LLC; and later became a partner in Mother Ocean LLC (a real estate investment company). Presently, she is a practicing attorney, active with several businesses, and serving her third term as a Nueces County Commissioner for the Port of Corpus Christi (having been appointed by County Judge Loyd Neal). The Port of Corpus Christi is the fourth largest port in the United States by tonnage, and the country’s number one crude energy export port while earning the 2018 TCEQ Environmental Excellence Award.  

Barbara serves on many distinguished boards in support of civic and non-profit organizations. She is one of three children of J.A. (Tony) and Yolanda Canales – a well-known South Texas family with a proud history of service to our community and country (Dr. Hector P. Garcia, and Dr. Cleo Garcia). Barbara is the mother of five beautiful adult children – Caroline, David, Natalie, Daniel, and Jacqueline.   

Proven Leadership

Nueces County Judge Barbara Canales lowered your county tax rate; and ran a balanced budget (2019-2022).

As emergency manager, Judge Canales led our county-wide community response for COVID-19 testing, vaccinations, and clinics (with infusion centers).

During her first term as county judge, Barbara Canales formed an opioid task force, collaborated with CCPD and MHID to provide cutting-edge technology to officers confronted with mental health scenarios, and committed resources for better mental health outcomes.

Since elected, the County’s “Rainy Day” Fund (Emergency Fund) balance has increased from $18.9MM to $24.9MM —in spite of COVID-19, Hurricane Hanna, and Winter Storm Uri.

Initiated first-ever Capital Improvement Plan allocating $120MM to re-build neglected infrastructure — county roads, cyber-security and IT upgrades, roofs, HVAC, elevators, courthouse and jail upgrades, emergency generators, ADA improvements(and all without raising the county tax rate).

Current Positions

Judge Barbara Canales current positions of service include:

  • Co-Chair of the Gulf States Counties and Parishes Caucus of the National Association of Counties
  • Director of Emergency Management for Nueces County
  • Vice-Chair of Coastal Bend Bays & Estuaries Program
  • Dr. Hector P. Garcia Memorial Foundation board member
  • Member of the 2021 White House Fellow Interview and Selection Committee
  • Founding Board Member of United Corpus Christi Chamber of Commerce Founding Board Member
  • Corpus Christi Hispanic Chamber, Emeritus Board Member
  • Vice-Chair of Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (“TIRZ”)
  • Metropolitan Planning Organization member
  • Founding Member and President of the Ready or Not Foundation
  • South Texas Institute of the Arts, advisory board member
  • Robstown Area Development Corporation, “RADC” member
  • Nueces County Advisory Board on Better Health Outcomes, member
  • Coastal Bend Council of Governments, “COG” member

Judge Canales is also a member of:

  • The Nueces County Purchasing Board, Corpus Christi Regional Economic Development Corporation (“CCREDC”)
  • State Bar of Texas
  • Corpus Christi Bar Association
  • TIRZ #2
  • TIRZ #3
  • Juvenile Board
  • Board of Judges
  • Local Government Advisory Committee (LGAC)
  • Recently appointed to the Regional Traffic Safety Task Force (member).

As Your County Judge

"For generations, my family has made South Texas our home. I was born in Nueces County, and I’ve lived here essentially all of my life. My campaign to be elected Nueces County Judge is personal to me. My only interest in being your Judge is to make a difference in our community. I believe we should reach for the stars, and I’m asking for you to believe in me."